By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Willamina girls basketball stays undefeated in WVL

Early in the season the Bulldogs struggled to find the right balance, and the Willamina (11-3, 4-0) coaching staff decided to take the players to an Oregon State Beavers game as a team building exercise. Since then, the Bulldogs have won 9-of-11 games.

In Wednesday’s 36-26 win vs. Sheridan (4-9, 1-2), the Bulldogs’ unity was tested early.

“It was just one of those nights where we did enough to win, but it wasn’t a pretty win,” Willamina coach Tom Anderson said. “The mental part of the game is important and you can’t get frustrated when shots don’t fall and things don’t go your way.”

Both teams struggled early on, but Willamina had trouble with harmony and agreeing on tempo. As a result, the Bulldogs ended the first quarter 3-of-18 from the field and ended the half shooting 8-of-31. They finished the game shooting 14-of-53.

With both teams struggling, Willamina held a 10-2 lead after the first. Though the offense was struggling for the Bulldogs, the defense was thriving. Willamina held Sheridan scoreless until the 3 minute, 33 second mark of the first.

“It was physical early on,” Anderson said. “But I told them they just had to play through it. It’s part of the game.”

Willamina closed the half with a 20-11 lead, but there was still confusion and frustration on the faces of the Bulldogs as they headed to the locker room.

“They were a little frustrated,” Anderson said. “(the offense) not sure that it’ll be perfected, but we have to improve the mental aspect of the game. No matter what’s happening on the floor, you keep playing and you keep fighting.”

It was Sheridan’s Brianna Potter and Jillian Nichols that were giving Willamina trouble throughout the game. Potter and Nichols finished the game with a combined 11 points and three rebounds.

Both players gave the Bulldogs trouble inside the paint which confused Willamina players.

“Those girls were big and important for us tonight,” Sheridan coach Gary Mahe said. “We lost the game to a good team but those girls, and all our girls did well in the paint and on the boards.”

Willamina came out in the second half with a much better effort defensively, and held the Spartans to four points in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs committed 18 turnovers.

“We know how we should play,” Willamina guard Devon Stackhouse said. “And we just didn’t step up and play. We came in a little big headed but we should’ve just played our game.”

Stackhouse admitted Sheridan’s defense, specifically Jessica Roberts, was frustrating the Bulldogs’ game plan.

“We just tried to push things too fast,” Stackhouse said. “Instead of taking things one step at a time, we pushed it and it resulted in a lot of turnovers.”

Stackhouse finished with five points and two rebounds. Zoey Holsclaw led the Bulldogs with six points and four rebounds.

Every player that stepped out on the floor for the Bulldogs scored at least three points.

Willamina faces a struggling Westside Christian at 6 p.m. today. Anderson said Willamina was not mentally ready to face Sheridan, and they have to be ready against struggling teams.

“Our goal is to compete at a high level every night and when we have a game like this, that’s not the kind of basketball we want to play,” Anderson said. “We have to execute our game plan better.”

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