By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

W. Mennonite girls thump Oakland

LINCOLN – The Western Mennonite girls basketball team understands that, in every gym it enters, the painted area will be crowded.

With four girls listed at 6-feet or taller, the Pioneers are strong inside and outside. Visiting Oakland figured this out the hard way, as Western Mennonite rolled to a 66-25 victory over the Oakers in Saturday’s Class 2A nonleague contest.

The Pioneers (10-2) held the Oakers to seven points in the second half on 2-of-26 shooting (7.7 percent). Western Mennonite guard Jenna Christenson overcame a slow start to score 17 of her game-high 23 points in the third quarter alone, helping the Pioneers pull away.

“I was thinking too much,” Christenson said. “I decided to just shoot.”

Seeds of doubt had been planted in the Pioneers’ heads Friday night, when Western Mennonite lost to Class 2A nonleague foe Regis, 46-37, in Stayton. A torrent of offense late in the game against Oakland (3-6) helped wash those doubts away.

“We knew last night’s game was an emotional high,” Pioneers coach Robby Gilliam said. “They were focused. We really just knuckled down and got the win.”

To do so, Western Mennonite used its athleticism and height to its advantage, running out to a 35-18 halftime lead over the Oakers and, once Christenson caught fire, never looking back.

Saturday night was tough on Pioneers post Emma Gibb, a McMinnville native. After scoring 17 points the night before against Regis, Gibb found herself in foul trouble early and had defenders collapse on her whenever she touched the ball. Nonetheless, the 6-foot-2 Gibb finished with seven points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals; the assist and steal totals were season highs.

“They doubled down (a lot),” Gibb said. “That left one person open but it made it harder to get the ball into the post.”

Madison Hull scored 14 points for Western Mennonite, and Emily Loyd had seven points and 15 rebounds. Elyssa Fahndrich chipped in eight points.

The Pioneers hosted Class 2A Tri-River Conference opponent Kennedy on Monday night. Western Mennonite plays Central Linn Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in Halsey.

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