Southridge point guard Sara Mangan is leading her team in scoring, rebounding and steals. (Photo by Karen Tsiatos)
Southridge point guard Sara Mangan is leading her team in scoring, rebounding and steals. (Photo by Karen Tsiatos)

A familiar name is creeping up the ladder in 6A girls basketball.

Former state juggernaut Southridge has been quietly stacking victories, running its record to 17-3 by beating Westview 34-30 on Tuesday, its seventh consecutive win. The Skyhawks cracked the top 10 of this week's 6A coaches poll at No. 9.

“We're still getting better,” said coach Michael Bergmann, whose team is 7-1 in the Metro League, battling for first place with No. 10 Jesuit (15-4, 7-1) and Beaverton (12-7, 6-1). “So far they're playing hard for each other.”

The Skyhawks are much improved from last season, when they went 14-11 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. They are contending for their first Metro League title since 2019, when they fell short of a 6A three-peat by losing to Benson in the state championship game.

The Skyhawks lost at Beaverton 51-45 on Jan. 20, but posted their most important win of the season Friday when they dropped visiting Jesuit 68-58, ending the Crusaders' nine-game winning streak. It was their first win against a team currently ranked in the top 10 of the 6A coaches poll.

“I told the girls before the game that it was a measuring stick,” Bergmann said. “It was big in the fact that it showed them that we can play against a really good team. But it's one win in the Metro. We still have to win games. I think we can build confidence from it, but it's not a season-changer.”

Southridge returned three starters from last season in 5-foot-7 sophomore point guard Sara Mangan, 5-5 senior guard Audrey Meek and 6-1 senior post Bella Loitz. Mangan was a Metro first-team pick as a freshman. Meek and Loitz are fourth-year starters.

Mangan is leading the team in scoring at 17.3 points per game, up from a team-high 16.5 last season. She also leads the team in rebounds (5.7) and steals (3.0) and is shooting 35.6 percent from three-point range, including one game with seven triples. She has had two 30-point games.

“She can score,” Bergmann said. “She's got one of the fastest releases I've ever seen. Teams basically try to not let her catch the ball. Teams are basically sticking on her, or going box-and-one on her.”

Mangan has diversified her game this season.

“She's doing way more than just shooting, so when teams are trying to take her away, she's working on attacking and hitting the open person. She's turned into an all-around player instead of just a shooter.”

Meek is the sister of former Southridge all-state guard McKelle Meek, who plays at the University of Portland for their father, Michael Meek, the coach of five Skyhawks state title teams from 2005 to 2010. Audrey Meek (7.0 points per game), who has committed to play at Division III Redlands (Calif.), has developed strong on-court chemistry with Mangan.

“It's really helpful to have two kids that play point guard,” Bergmann said. “The year before Sara was here, Audrey was the main point guard, so teams would put their best player on her. One reason why Sara shoots such a high percentage is Audrey is really good at finding her in the right spot.”

Sophomore Alex Lytchanyi and senior Avery Barron are the other starters. The team has improved depth with the addition of two transfers in senior Courtney Barton (Aloha) and sophomore Addison White (Lakeridge).

The 5-11 Barton and 6-1 White have provided extra size.

“We're longer this year, for sure,” Bergmann said. “It definitely helps, especially defensively.”

Southridge lost to Beaverton, Iolani (Hawaii) 44-30 and Nelson 49-34. The Skyhawks couldn't keep pace with speedy Iolani and struggled to deal with the physicality of Beaverton and Nelson.

“That's something hopefully we're learning is that we can be really physical,” Bergmann said. “We don't have to back down.”

Southridge played more physical against Jesuit as Loitz and White battled inside against 6-1 Kendra Hicks, the Crusaders' powerful senior post. Mangan led the Skyhawks with 23 points.

Can Southridge make some noise in the 6A playoffs?

“I don't think we're elite, but I think we can be good, and we can get better,” Bergmann said. “Whether we have enough talent, I'm not sure yet to say we can play with the top teams. I really like this team. I like the make-up.”

Tualatin perseveres

Tualatin has defied the injury bug to stand in first place in the 6A Three Rivers League.

The No. 8 Timberwolves (14-4, 6-1), with two starters out for the season in senior wing Jaylyn Arosemena (broken ankle) and sophomore point guard Ries Miadich (broken wrist), won at No. 7 West Linn 46-43 on Monday in a battle of first-place teams. They avenged a 52-48 home loss to the Lions (12-7, 5-2) on Jan. 25.

In the rematch, Tualatin got a big game from 6-2 junior post Jordyn Smith, who had 23 points and eight rebounds.

“She was so composed out there, and dominated the game on both ends of the floor,” Timberwolves coach Wes Pappas said.

With five minutes left in the game, though, Smith badly sprained her ankle by landing on a West Linn player's foot and sat the rest of the way.

“With our three leading scorers out, we held on and pulled out the win,” Pappas said. “It was one of the gutsiest efforts I've seen in my 22 years of coaching. I've never seen a team with that much talent injured and sitting on the bench. We were asking kids to step up that have never done that at the varsity level.”

Sophomore Kylie Weaver came through with eight points and five rebounds and sophomore Alex Padilla, one of the remaining starters, had nine points and five rebounds.

Arosemena was injured Jan. 2 against Liberty and Miadich was hurt Jan. 30 against Tigard.

“Both kids could have been first-team all-leaguers, so the losses are immense,” Pappas said.

Tualatin holds a half-game lead in the league standings over Oregon City (12-6, 5-1). The Timberwolves play host to the Pioneers on Feb. 16.

Bergeson sparks La Salle

Sophomore center Ava Bergeson is on a roll for 5A La Salle Prep.

In three games last week, the 6-1 Bergeson averaged 29.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the the No. 10 Falcons (10-8, 6-2 Northwest Oregon Conference). For the season, she is averaging 17.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.6 blocks.

“The team is getting better at the right time, and a lot of that has to do with our standout sophomore,” coach Lucas Fiorante said. “It's impressive to see a sophomore producing at this level.”

Due to multiple injuries early in the season, Bergeson had to fill the role of primary ball handler while also providing offense.

“I knew going into the year that Ava was going to score and rebound, but her ability to fill in at every position has been special,” Fiorante said.

Bergeson also has improved at scoring through contact.

“We've been pushing her to be more aggressive all year, and she has really taken it to heart and been dominating these last few weeks,” Fiorante said. “She can hit from the perimeter, and when the defense adjusts, she attacks inside.”

Crane wins 1A clash

No. 1 Crane turned back No. 2 North Douglas 69-56 in a nonleague showdown between the top teams in the OSAAtoday 1A coaches poll Monday at Gilchrist High School.

Freshman Kaitlyn Siegner led the unbeaten Mustangs (21-0) with 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals. Crane also got 14 points from freshman Taya Nelson and 12 points and nine assists from senior Kortney Doman.

Siegner scored 16 points in the first quarter as the Mustangs built a 19-point lead. Crane encountered foul trouble in the first half but its bench helped keep the Warriors (19-3) at bay.

North Douglas, which had a 12-game winning streak, made a run in the fourth quarter with its press after Doman and junior Elaia Idoeta fouled out. Junior point guard Brooklyn Cyr had 27 points and six steals and senior post Brooke McHaffie added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors.

It was the most points allowed this season by Crane. The Mustangs had not surrendered more than 39 points and entered allowing 24.7 points per game.

No. 1 Crater edges No. 2 Springfield

No. 1 Crater solidified its hold on first place in the 5A Midwestern League with a 58-56 road win over No. 2 Springfield on Friday.

Junior guard Sage Winslow had 28 points and four steals and junior center Lydia Traore added 14 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks for the Comets (18-1, 8-0), who swept the two-game season series against the reigning state champion Millers (13-7, 6-2).

Springfield trailed by two points on its final possession but the Comets came up with a steal, tipping the ball loose as the Millers tried to get the ball to senior guard Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam.

Junior Diamond Wright and Romero-Ah Sam scored 28 and 21 points, respectively, to lead Springfield.

The Millers led 42-39 after three quarters but the Comets had a 19-14 edge in the fourth quarter as Winslow scored eight points and Traore hit 7 of 8 free throws.