SALEM — West Albany High was competitive for one half Friday, but something was clearly missing.
The Bulldogs never found much offensive rhythm at South Salem. The host Saxons found theirs in the second half and ran away with a 57-32 Greater Valley Conference girls basketball win.
West (11-10, 7-6) trailed by only four at halftime thanks to a solid defensive effort and despite 13 turnovers that limited scoring opportunities.
“I think we were all just a little shaken up and couldn’t get out of our heads and into the game,” said senior guard Hannah Kerlegan.
The Bulldogs scored 50 fewer points than they did in a 10-point home win against the Saxons three weeks earlier.
They struggled to find the holes in the South Salem zone defense throughout and couldn’t get many good looks inside the 3-point line.
“We didn’t penetrate the gaps like we talked about. We kind of got away from our attack style on offense. We were pretty passive,” said West coach Shawn Stinson, noting that it was an uncharacteristic effort by his group.
“We talked about adjustments but we never really executed the adjustments. I think they just got caught up in the moment.”
The game got away from the Bulldogs in the third quarter.
The Saxons (10-11, 8-5) scored the first eight points of the period. West only had two Alyssa Walls free throws before McKenzie Kosmicki’s 3-pointer with 2:34 left in the quarter.
South Salem went to the fourth up 15 and West Albany got no closer than 13 down the stretch. The Saxons scored the game’s final 11 points to erase the memory of what was a close game.
“We need a couple days to regroup, but I like where my team’s at,” said Stinson, whose squad had won five straight games before a 66-57 home loss to McMinnville on Tuesday. “We’ve been playing really well, other than tonight. So I expect that to continue.”
The second halves of each of the first two periods Friday were unkind to the Bulldogs. West led 8-7 on a Molly Hendricks 3-pointer with 4:40 left in the first. But the Bulldogs didn’t score again in the period and the Saxons finished it on an 8-0 run.
West got going again on both ends for a few minutes early in the second. Another Hendricks 3-pointer capped an 8-0 run that gave the Bulldogs a 16-15 advantage with 4:57 left in the half.
But that was it for their scoring, and South Salem went to the break up 20-15.
Hendricks led West in scoring with nine points. Kerlegan added seven and Carley Robb six.
“I think this game was an eye-opener for us and we’ve just got to work harder,” Kerlegan said. “We’ve got three games left and we know what we’re capable of, so we’ve just got to go out there and do it.”
The Bulldogs’ run to finish the regular season starts Tuesday at winless McKay. They go to Forest Grove next Friday and host West Salem on Feb. 20 to close out the GVC schedule.
West Albany opened the day Friday tied with South Salem and West Salem for fourth in the conference. The top four GVC teams gets an automatic berth in the 6A state playoffs.
With a power ranking of 23 before Friday’s loss, the Bulldogs are still likely to make the playoffs. After automatic berths are awarded statewide, the next 12 best teams in the power rankings qualify for the postseason.