NEWPORT — Defense, defense and more defense was key for the Newport Cubs girls basketball team as they stymied the Marshfield-Coos Bay Pirates 32-20 to officially end their non-conference season on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at home.
League-opponents Sisters is on the schedule for the 2020 4A-3 Oregon West Conference opener next.
Newport held Marshfield to two points in the first quarter, eight points in the second, six in the third and only four points in the final quarter.
And for Cubs head coach Nathan Green, the effort throughout the contest was a sight to see.
“The defense tonight was just, I mean it has been there all year,” Green said on his girls tenacity to get after the Pirates. “They are communicating and playing so hard, and they are playing for each other.”
Newport allowed only five shots, other than free throws, the entire night — an incredible feat for any team. Luckily, the Cubs’ early woes on offense didn’t hamper their night.
Newport dominated defensively, but offensively, there was a bit to be desired.
The Cubs struggled early on in the game, scoring only more than 10 points in a quarter once, but they battled and overcame a tough team in a not-so-pretty game.
“It was a pretty choppy game, and it seemed like we had a possession, turnover, possession and then turnover again, so we are still trying to get rhythm in our games,” Green said. “We are playing a lot of young players, and the inexperience is still showing, but we are starting to come together.”
Six different Cubs got onto the scoresheet against Marshfield, but leading all scorers were Newport’s Avonly Wolf, with nine points, and Michaela Wagner, with eight.
The pair have been steady contributors for the Cubs so far this season, and with league play around the corner, expect much more from the Cubs’ dynamic duo.
But, that can be said for the entire Cubs team. With a youth movement underway, finding minutes for all the players on the team not only gives everyone a chance to play, but also gives Green and his coaching staff more options deeper down the bench.
And with a league matchup with Sisters on the horizon, having that depth and experience is going to be key for the Cubs.
“League is kind of a fresh start, and there are some opportunities there for some victories, I believe,” Green said.
The game against the Pirates opened on a quite note, as both teams combined to score only seven points in the first quarter.
Both the Pirates and the Cubs were probing each other, before the Cubs sank their claws into the Pirates.
Dakota Rundell and Wagner carried the offensive load in the first quarter with five points combined, and their play fueled the Cubs heading into the second quarter as Newport began peeling away from Marshfield.
Wagner hit a three, one of two in the game for her, and the Cubs got scoring from Hannah Driebergen (two points), Carlee Murray (one point) and Nicole Dickason (two points).
Momentum shifted towards Newport, and the home team never let go.
Marshfield responded with its best quarter of the game with eight points in the second, but defensively, the Cubs weathered the storm.
Anytime a Pirate got into the paint, there were two Cubs waiting to meet her.
Whenever Marshfield tried to dribble it on the perimeter, there were multiple Cubs positioning themselves to stop the dribble-drive.
Newport kept the game close and continued to stifle the Pirates every chance they got.
The Cubs went into the breakup 13-10, but came out in the third and shut the door.
Only six points were allowed in the third quarter, off only two shots and a single free throw. The Cubs perimeter defense intensified in the second half, allowing the Green to empty his bench and allow the entire team time on the court.
And while it looked like just another chance for more girls to play, it served as a great opportunity for backup players to get some experience in the game.
“Everyone was given an opportunity, and when they get a chance, they have to be ready to go, and even our starters have to learn how to be starters,” Green said.
The Cubs continued their defensive effort in the fourth quarter, only allowing one made shot and a couple of trips to the free-throw line.
Newport officially ends non-conference play and will move into 4A-3 Oregon West Conference play.