BEAVERTON – Trailing No. 2 Jesuit by six points late in the third quarter Thursday night, No. 1 Beaverton was facing the very real prospect of sharing the 6A Metro League girls basketball title with the Crusaders.
But much like they did in the first round of Metro play at Jesuit, the Beavers used a big second-half run to come from behind and win 48-38. They claimed the league title outright and celebrated by cutting down the nets and posing for photos.
“It just feels really good to win Metro,” junior guard Zoe Borter said after Beaverton completed its second perfect run through the league in three seasons. “Obviously, we still have state to go, but it feels really good to get this. Obviously, we didn't want to share it.”
Borter scored 20 points and junior guard Jaydin Lutu made four three-pointers and added 13 points as Beaverton (21-1, 12-0) finished off the regular season with a 15-game winning streak.
Two years ago, Beaverton entered the 6A postseason with the No. 1 seed and reached the semifinals, but the Beavers' bid for their first state championship came to a crashing halt when the state tournament was canceled by the COVID-19 outbreak. Now the Beavers, seeded first again, get another chance.
“People will definitely be out for blood,” Lutu said. “There are so many good teams, so we're just going to do our best. We're pretty confident.”
Borter said Beaverton is “clicking at the right time.”
“This game kind of showed how we can fight through adversity,” Borter said. “Being down most of the first half and part of the second half, it showed how we never stop fighting.”
Jesuit (22-3, 10-2), looking to avenge a 44-31 home loss to Beaverton, came out on fire and raced to a 15-4 lead behind 10 points from junior point guard Emma Sixta.
“They came out and shot the lights out,” Beaverton coach Kathy Naro said. “They were all very aggressive. They gave us a real punch. I think offensively we were a little big stagnant. I think the way they shot it kind of threw us a little bit.”
The Crusaders led 20-10 in the second quarter and were still up 31-25 after Sixta hit a three-pointer with 2:02 left in the third quarter. But that's when Beaverton seized control.
The Beavers went on a 13-0 run during a 7-minute, 23-second span to lead 38-31 with 2:39 left. Lutu made two three-pointers and Borter hit a three-pointer and a runner during the rally.
“In the beginning, we definitely weren't playing together,” Lutu said. “We weren't necessarily playing connected. We kind of brought it all together at the end. We started working together, and we started playing for each other. It was definitely close, but everyone played their part.”
Borter said it started with defense.
“We locked in and got stops, and that turned into offense,” Borter said.
The 5-foot-3 Lutu was the glue for the Beavers, not only making deep shots but chasing down rebounds and loose balls and making smart passes.
“She was so good tonight,” Naro said of Lutu. “She's just a total team player, a hustler, all the little things. I'm just so proud of her for her success. I love that her confidence is growing. It's not just the threes, it's the hustle plays, the rebounds, just the competitiveness.”
Beaverton's defense, which entered allowing a 6A-low 31.0 points per game, tightened its grip on the Crusaders as the game wore on.
“I was really proud that we settled down and kept fighting,” Naro said. “I thought we got better defensively. At the beginning, we weren't locked in. We let it get away from us a little bit. But they can score so many different ways, they're tough to guard.”
Beaverton closed out the win by making 12 of 14 free throws in the last 2:39. Jesuit got no closer than seven points in the last two minutes.
Heading into the playoffs, Naro said the Beavers can't afford to be satisfied with where they stand.
“We've got to keep getting better,” Naro said. “I think at times on offense, we stand, we look for the one option. So those are things we've got to work on, moving to the next option.”
Junior point guard Lainey Spear and junior point guard Madison Naro added six points apiece for Beaverton. Sixta scored 17 points to lead Jesuit, which also got three three-pointers and nine points from junior guard Avery Edwards.