FOREST GROVE —Marshfield’s hopes for a repeat girls state basketball title came crashing down Thursday night when Sky-Em League rival Marist Catholic stunned the Pirates 45-40 in the Class 4A quarterfinals at Forest Grove High School.
“It’s really hard to play a good team three times,” Marshfield’s Tess Garrett said while fighting back tears after the game. “They came out and executed better than us tonight.”
The Pirates had won both regular-season matchups with the Spartans but trailed most of the game Thursday as they struggled horribly with their shooting in the first half.
Marshfield was just 3-for-24 from the floor in the opening two quarters, and not much better in the second half, finishing the game just 9-for-43 (20.9 percent). The Pirates stayed in the game with free throws, but in the end it was Marist Catholic’s free throw shooting that won the game for the Spartans.
Marist Catholic had its biggest lead at 26-17 after a 3-pointer from the wing by Ruby Vlahov with 3:20 to go in the third quarter, but Garrett answered right back with a 3-pointer for the Pirates and Marshfield chipped away at the lead.
Vlahov beat the third-quarter buzzer with a jumper to give the Spartans a 30-23 lead, but Marshfield opened the fourth on a 9-2 run tying the game on a pair of free throws by Garrett with 5:28 to go.
But Marist Catholic scored the next six points, all from the line, with Sydney Johnson hitting four free throws sandwiched around two by Madison Ficek.
Marshfield again rallied, pulling within one on two free throws by Hailey Browning with 1:16 to go. But Abby Doerr hit three free throws and Ficek and Vlahov added two more each as the Spartans held on.
“That was the best we’ve played all year,” Ficek said as her teammates celebrated their win over the top-ranked Pirates. “It was amazing.
“We knew we had to be on our game the whole way and ready to play. We did it.”
Two huge keys that played in Marist Catholic’s favor were the Spartans’ defense limiting the Pirates shooting and that same defense keeping Marshfield from its transition offense getting its normal output.
“We never got into a rhythm offensively,” Marshfield coach Bruce Bryant said.
He credited the Spartans for a lot of that.
“We knew they were going to be tough,” he said. “They were 5A champs last year for a reason.”
Marist Catholic didn’t shoot great, but the Spartans were better than the Pirates, finishing 13-for-37 from the floor. They also made 13 of their last 14 free throws and 15 of 20 for the game.
Garrett pointed out that Marshfield missed too many easy shots around the basket while Marist, especially Vlahov, converted a lot of drives to the hoop.
“Layins win games, free throws win championships,” she said. “Credit to them.”
Garrett and Browning, Marshfield’s leading scorers on the season, combined to shoot just 1-for-15 from the floor in the first half. Garrett warmed up in the second half and finished with a game-high 20 points, while Browning had six points and 11 rebounds.
Vlahov had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans and Johnson added nine points and seven boards.
The result was the Pirates suffering their second loss of the year on a day when only one upper seed won, and that game in a comeback by Baker, which trailed Stayton by 10 points in the fourth quarter before rallying to win.
“It’s not always the best team that wins, it’s the team that plays best,” Bryant said. “They played better than us tonight.”
Marist Catholic meets Newport in the semifinals — a matchup of the eighth and 12th seeds for the playoffs — after Newport beat North Marion earlier in the evening.
That means the Pirates get a chance to avenge their only other loss of the season when they meet the Huskies in the consolation bracket.
Garrett said the Pirates will be ready.
“Somebody has to be upset — obviously, we didn’t want it to be us,” she said. “We had a goal of winning a championship.
“It hurts right now. If we can come back to win a trophy, that’s something to be proud of.”
BAKER 42, STAYTON 36: The Bulldogs stormed back in the fourth quarter to beat the Eagles after Stayton took a 10-point lead to the final quarter.
Baker meets Philomath in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Stayton will try to stay alive in the tournament when it battles Banks at 9 a.m. at Pacific University.
Rose Gwillim had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Baker and Isabella Nemec added nine points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with just over a minute to go.
KJ Nyquist scored 18 points and Marri Martinez added 10 for Stayton.
PHILOMATH 45, BANKS 43: Freshman Sage Kramer had 28 points and the Warriors upset the No. 3 Braves.
Emma Pankalla hit a pair of free throws that gave Philomath a five-point lead with six seconds to go after Banks star Aspen Slifka misfired on a potential game-tying 3-pointer. Slifka led the Braves with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists, as well as six steals, in the loss.
NEWPORT 50, NORTH MARION 33: The Cubs led nearly all the way and built a 15-point halftime lead as they beat the Huskies.
Megan Wagner and Kaitlyn Mitchell had 12 points each and Madison Hargett had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Cubs.
Katie Ensign scored a game-high 17 for the Huskies.