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Phoenix slips by St. Mary’s in Pirate Shootout

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Second-half surge allows Pirate girls to deny Crusaders

Chelsea Winner wasn’t quite sure what her Phoenix girls basketball team would have in the tank Saturday afternoon after a marathon outing about 20 hours earlier.

Fortunately for Winner and the rest of the Pirate faithful, that answer came in the second half against St. Mary’s, as Phoenix pulled away for a 44-29 victory on the final day of the Pirate Shootout at Phoenix High.

With junior forward Morgan James and sophomore guard Anabell Delgado leading the way, the Pirates were able to outscore the Crusaders 25-14 over the final two quarters to improve their season record to 2-1.

James finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Delgado had 13 points and five steals.

On Friday night, both were part of a five-person set utilized by Winner that never left the court against Douglas, which went on to win 41-26. The coach explained that the Pirates’ largely inexperienced reserves would have been fed to the wolves a little against the more physical and experienced Trojans.

“We started off pretty slow, I think we were pretty worn out from playing a straight five set,” said Winner, “but we settled in pretty good in the second half and we were able to get a few other girls in to help balance things out.”

“We always come out in the second half and play pretty well,” she added of the breakthrough performance. “I knew that it would take us a while so I didn’t panic too much in the first half, but I was definitely concerned, I won’t lie.”

St. Mary’s (0-3) gave good reason for pause after building an 11-8 lead through one quarter despite being short-handed in its own right.

The Crusaders carry only eight players in the entire program, and only six were able to participate Saturday, but saw senior Ryker Rothfus and junior Hannah Erickson each finish with nine points in a determined showing for head coach Sydney Mullings.

“Sydney has done a great job with what she’s got this year,” said Winner of St. Mary’s. “Those girls fight and they’re so much better than they were last year, even without the numbers. They’re gritty and they fight and they’ve got some good players, and they all have good attitudes, too.”

The battle of attrition finally began to sway things the Pirates’ way in the second half, with Phoenix using an 11-6 surge to take a 30-21 lead into the final quarter.

James played a significant role in turning the tide, constantly finding ways to slip through the defense for a basket or rebound.

“Morgan is our only returning varsity player and a team captain and she knows that in order for us to be successful she has to step up and she did a great job of that tonight and yesterday as well,” said Winner. “She’s got some height but she’s not super-strong, but still she knows how to play big. She has great instincts for when to cut and when to drive and get to the basket.”

Delgado was equally active on the perimeter and did well to handle the pressure put on by St. Mary’s.

“We are so grateful to have her this year after losing our starting point guard from last year’s team,” said Winner. “She’s a great kid and played soccer for me in the fall and she plays fearless. She will drive on anybody at any time, it doesn’t matter how big the defense may be, she’s going to go after it.”

The same could be said for Phoenix junior Kyla Potratz, who despite standing 5-foot-2 pulled in eight rebounds to go with three steals.

For St. Mary’s, junior forward Katherine Mejia scored seven points and came down with a host of rebounds in her own right to help the Crusaders stay relatively close until the end.

ST. MARY’S (29): Bowdoin 0, Ward 2, Rothfus 9, Erickson 9, Mills 2, Mejia 7. Totals: 9 10-22 29.

PHOENIX (44): James 21, Nolan 2, Woodward 2, Potratz 2, Delgado 13, Rector 2, McConnell 2, Mohamud 0. Totals: 15 14-21 44.

St. Mary’s11468— 29

Phoenix8111114— 44

3-point goals — St. Mary’s 1 (Rothfus 1). Technical foul — St. Mary’s assistant coach.

Have a story idea? Reach sports editor Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Morgan James of Phoenix, finds an opening between St. Mary's defenders for a score. Photo by Denise Baratta
Kayla Potratz, (11), and Hannah Erickson, (25), fight for a rebound Saturday between Phoenix and St. Mary's. Photo by Denise Baratta
St. Mary's Maddie Ward attempts a block on a basket made by Morgan James, (1), of Phoenix. Photo by Denise Baratta