During his halftime talk in the Class 3A third-place game Saturday at Marshfield High School, Burns girls coach Brandon McMullen went through several key points. Among them were keeping track of Brookings-Harbor’s Sidney Alexander and spreading around the offense.
The Hilanders did both those things and the result was a great second half as Burns pulled away for a 49-41 win over the Bruins.
“It feels good,” said Burns star Allie Hueckman.
The Hilanders played in the third-place game last year, but came up short. This time, trailing the Bruins 25-23 at the break, they turned it around.
“I felt that we just came out more aggressive in the second half,” Hueckman said.
The Bruins had just one basket in the third, by Lexi Schofield early in the quarter to put Brookings-Harbor up 27-25.
Hueckman hit a 3-pointer to put the Hilanders in front and they stayed there the rest of the way.
Hueckman was brilliant, and scored almost all the Hilanders’ points in the first half. But significantly, the 3-pointer was her last hoop until midway through the fourth.
Instead, it was Kaitlyn Wright and Kylie Engebretson providing all the rest of the points in a 13-0 run that turned the tide in the favor of the Hilanders.
“We had a run there — that was the difference,” McMullen said. “That Brookings-Harbor team is really good. They can shoot the ball.”
Nobody was better over the final two days of the tournament for Brookings-Harbor than Alexander, who had four 3-pointers in the first half.
She only got one shot in the second half.
“We were switching off, making sure she didn’t get any open 3s,” Hueckman said.
Alexander’s 12 first-half points helped the Bruins lead nearly the entire opening two periods.
The Bruins finally did stop the Burns streak with 3-pointers — by Avana Pettus and Lexee Murray, but could never get closer than five points.
Brookings-Harbor coach Chris Schofield passed praise on to Hueckman, who finished with 28 points.
“Hueckman was fantastic today,” Schofield said. “We tried to make other people beat us and it didn’t matter. She was just making tough shot after tough shot.”
Wright finished with eight points for the Hilanders.
Lexi Schofield led the Bruins with 13 points, while Alexander had 12 and Pettus 11.
The Bruins reached the semifinals for the first time and were aiming for the best finish in school history, one spot better than when they were fourth last year.
Schofield said Saturday’s loss didn’t take away from that.
“We knew we were coming away with a trophy,” he said. “We weren’t going to let the number on it define who we were.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how they did all weekend and all season.”
The Hilanders, meanwhile, finished two spots better than last year and, in part, have the Bruins to thank for it.
The two teams met in the quarterfinals at state last year and McMullen said that game impacted his coaching.
That included switching up the defense, which helped contain Alexander, and switching the offense.
“We picked up their dribble-drive offense,” McMullen said. “We figured it fit our personnel better.”
Burns also was prepared better for the Bruins’ full-court pressure, he said. The Hilanders had just seven turnovers Saturday.
The result was the third-place trophy in a year when Clatskanie repeated as champion by beating No. 2 Sutherlin later Saturday in a title game that matched the top two teams all season.
“There’s the top tier and then there’s everybody else,” McMullen said. “I think we’re at the top of everybody else.”
And with all but one player back, including the explosive Hueckman who was a unanimous all-tourney pick, the Hilanders are hungry for more.
“Third place was a step better than last year,” Hueckman said. “We’re going for it all next year.”