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Comets fall shy in rematch of 4A final

The Crater High girls basketball team met an all too familiar opponent in the finals of the End of the Trial tournament Sunday at Oregon City.

The Comets shocked two Washington state champions on Saturday to get into the finals where they found themselves butting heads once again with 6-foot-5 Kara Braxton and Westview.

Crater, which fell to the Wildcats 47-44 in last season's Class 4A state title game, battled back from an early deficit but couldn't fight all the way back in a 61-47 loss.

Westview jumped to an early 14-2 lead before Bre Johnson brought the Comets back to within 14-9 with two straight hoops.

The lead would teeter right around five points the rest of the first half until Braxton turned in a three-point play and then, following a Crater turnover, scored again to push the margin to 38-28 heading into the half.

The Comets made one more run when they turned to the high-low game against the Wildcats? zone defense.

Sarah Pool took it right at Braxton several times resulting in easy baskets for teammates Johnson and Jody McLeod.

With the lead whittled down to 45-40, Braxton, who held up the offensive end of things with 31 points, started stepping it up on the defensive end too.

She started blocking and misdirecting shots as well as causing some serious foul trouble for Crater.

Not only was Braxton taking the Comets out of their game plan, but they also had to deal with a 30-second shot clock, which combated their slowdown tactics.

We had a couple of shot clock violations and it forced us to rush some things, said Crater coach Scott Dipple. It (shot clock) played in their favor as far as defending us.

Westview iced the game at the foul line, going 20-for-21 with Braxton connecting on all nine of her attempts.

Unfortunately, there was no Hack-A-Shaq strategies to turn to, said Dipple on Braxton's free-throw shooting. She was doing everything so well, I was telling people we held her to 31 points.

Pool, Amy Denson, McLeod and Johnson all ended up with five fouls. Tournament rules allowed six fouls before disqualification.

I felt really good about our showing, said Dipple. It's (second-place) the farthest any Crater team has advanced in this tournament.

The Comets, who placed fourth in last year's End of the Trial tournament, were led by McLeod's 11 points and six rebounds while Johnson added 10 points.

Denson chipped in eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Pool finished with six points and a team-high six assists.

Pool was also named the tournament's co-mvp along with Braxton.

Braxton's sister, Kim, added 14 points for Westview, which managed just two field goals beyond the Braxtons? efforts.