Irish capitalize on interior presence

Waldport’s Novalee Thomas checked into the game and immediately found herself scoring on an Irish fast-break Tuesday, Feb. 11, versus Reedsport. (Photos by Nugesse Ghebrendrias)

WALDPORT — Head coach Les Keele saw many positives from Tuesday’s 50-20 victory over Reedsport at home.

His Irish were stout on defense; they were moving the ball around the perimeter and dominating the paint with an interior presence that never let up.

“I think what worked the most was our two posts working together,” Keele said. “They were doing a really nice job of finding each other and we got a lot of that. We also hit a few threes and we were just patient on offense, we ran things until we got a decent shot.”

Kylie Burk led all scorers with 16 points, followed by Cayden Ritchey and Charity Smith who each had nine points.

Burk’s initial burst in the first quarter not only set her off for a strong showing, but it helped get the Irish rolling.

Kyra Pickner and Smith each recorded a free throw, but Burk took it upon herself to exploit her matchup.And she did just that, scoring nine points in the quarter. Burk utilized her size and athletic ability to attack the paint, a strategy the Irish implemented all night.

Waldport outscored Reedsport 11-6 in the first quarter, setting themselves up for an even better second quarter.

Led by a pair of three-point shots by Hadley McSharry and Smith, Waldport finished the quarter with double-digit points again, while Reedsport could only find the basket twice.

The Irish held a 21-9 lead heading into the halftime break.

Defensively, especially in the first half we held them to only nine points,” Keele said. “We went man-to-man and the kids did a good job, so I’m pleased with their defensive effort.”

That effort saw the Irish allow only 20 points the entire game, with a high of only seven points for Reedsport in the fourth quarter.

But as the defense continued to stymie the visitors heading into the third quarter, the Irish offense seemed to get better as the game progressed. The Irish were punishing the paint, scoring a majority of their third-quarter points within feet of the basket.

Burk recorded seven, Smith and Pickner each had a bucket inside and Ritchey had four as she’s able to operate on the perimeter and inside the paint area.

Waldport put 17 points past Reedsport in the third, wrapping the game up unofficially.

The Irish continued, but allowed others on the team to get into the game. With playoffs around the corner, Keele and his girls are preparing for all scenarios. And judging their performance against Reedsport, the Irish look like they are starting to hit their stride again.  

The Irish closed out the game 12-7, finishing their season-series sweep over Reedsport. Waldport defeated the Braves 49-23 back in January.

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