LEBANON — Year in and year out, the Silverton High girls basketball team fields one of the top defenses in 5A.
The disciplined Foxes play sticky man-to-man, half-court defense and rarely allow easy looks at the basket. The formula has yielded three consecutive 5A state tournament appearances and a pair of MWC titles in 2015 and 2016.
No. 8 Silverton was at it again Tuesday night, making life exceptionally difficult for fourth-ranked Lebanon at Bud Page Activity Center. The visitors grabbed the early lead and held on for a 55-43 victory.
“They are just really scrappy,” Lebanon coach Mardy Benedict said of the Foxes. “They move their feet like crazy and they body up. There was a lot of body going on and they are real physical in there.
“(Silverton coach Tal Wold) doesn’t have them in the tourney all the time because they don’t play good defense. That’s what gets you there.”
The Warriors (10-2, 1-2), who resume MWC play Friday at Dallas, had just 26 points through three quarters Tuesday night. A season ago, Lebanon averaged 31.5 points in two lopsided losses against the Foxes.
Lebanon sophomore post Ellie Croco led all players with 17 points. Croco had 11 points in the final period.
Maddy Romeo and Paige Wombacher added eight points apiece for the Warriors.
Early in the third quarter, Croco converted a pair of foul shots to trim Silverton’s (10-3, 3-0) seven-point halftime lead to 24-19. The Foxes answered with an 8-0 run to reestablish control at 32-19.
Silverton made four of its nine 3-pointers in the period to take a 38-26 advantage into the fourth. Lebanon wasn’t able to claw back into it as the Foxes cruised to their seventh straight win in the series.
“They create your attention on-ball and then they are really good at kicking and hitting 3s,” Benedict said. “Last year they also killed us from the perimeter, so they must like our gym because they hit nine more on us. A lot of them were uncontested, and that’s our fault for staying too long help-side or not being able to move on the pass.”
Five different Foxes hit 3s in the victory.
Senior post Maggie Roth paced Silverton with 12 points while keeping Lebanon off the boards. The Warriors finished with just 14 total rebounds for the game.
Silverton put together an 8-0 first-quarter run to go up 10-5. The Foxes led 12-8 after one and extended it to 24-9 midway through the second.
Lebanon, which made just five field goals in the opening half, closed the period with eight straight points to cut the deficit to 24-17.
The hosts were just 5 of 11 from the foul line in the first half. Silverton made all three of its attempts.
Benedict believes Friday’s matchup at Dallas (7-5, 1-2) is a crucial test for the Warriors.
“We had a great preseason and we won some games that we didn’t play well,” Benedict said. “Then it gets to league, and we’re still young and it’s like something changed. But it doesn’t need to change; we just need to play this game called basketball and continue to be in control and sure of ourselves.