A trio of both seniors and juniors, and a quartet of sophomores, took the Weston-McEwen girls basketball program to the summit of the Oregon Class 2A ranks in 2005.
The team, coached by Jeff Griggs, was crowned as league, district and state champions during a 24-1 season that led to its induction into the W-M Hall of Fame in 2017.
Seniors Darcy Thompson, Kayla Johnson, and Kayla Paredes helped lead the TigerScots. They were joined by juniors Susanna Bonifer, Stephanie Zeller and Molly Tucker, and sophomores Ashleigh Riddle, Wendy Baker, Kayla Turner and Sara Smalley.
Thoughts of going all the way came quickly to some on the ball club, Griggs said.
“When a number of these girls were in middle school, they decided they wanted to win a state title,” Griggs said. “There were high expectations from parents and the kids were feeling pretty confident. Most of the kids were returners. The girls were motivated.”
An indicator of the team’s capabilities unfolded in a season-opening win over Dayton.
“We came out and dropped three 3s and 23 points on them in the first quarter,” Griggs said. “We felt pretty good about that.”
The winning ways prior to Christmas break continued with wins against stiff opposition like Enterprise and Sherman County.
“I felt it was a good test for where we should be headed,” Griggs said of the Enterprise victory. “We had a lot of respect for Sherman County. It was a good sign to come out of the gate strong against them.”
W-M ended its December slate by beating McLoughlin, Elgin and Union.
The TigerScots opened January by defeating Pilot Rock, Mac-Hi, Heppner and Culver.
Weston-McEwen sported a league record of 5-0 and overall mark of 13-0 before losing at Sherman County.
“It may have been the best thing that happened to us,” Griggs said. “Practices after that were stepped up a notch.”
The TigerScots won their last six regular-season games. One of them was achieved versus Heppner.
“They had great athletes that challenged us,” Griggs said. “It was a fantastic game. A good matchup. Well contested. It came down to rebounds and turnovers.”
W-M defeated Sherman County for the district championship behind 21 points from Johnson and 16 more from Paredes.
The TigerScots disposed of Enterprise in the state round of 16 before opposing Myrtle Point in the Elite Eight.
Weston-McEwen trailed 14-11 after one quarter, but treys from Johnson and Tucker ignited a 22-point second quarter. Johnson ended up with 18 points and Paredes 10 in a 48-34 win.
Next up was top-ranked and undefeated Portland Christian in the semifinals.
“If you’re going to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Griggs said. “They had two 6-foot sisters — Kelsey and Kim Hill. We tried to press in the first quarter, but it was not effective.”
Portland Christian led 20-13 at halftime.
“We knew we had to step up and play at the same level’” Griggs said. “We changed to a half-court trap late in the third quarter. We got extra touches and steals, but still struggled to score.”
But Tucker drained a 3 and a long two “that got us momentum” in the fourth quarter, Griggs said, and Johnson sank a trifecta to keep W-M close.
Johnson made two free throws with 53 seconds left and Baker followed suit in the final moments to cap a 34-31 victory.
The TigerScots took a 10-3 lead after one quarter in the championship game and never looked back. Paredes scored 18 points, eight in the fourth quarter, in a title-clinching 42-29 conquest of Chiloquin.
“The fans roared out of the stands,” Griggs said. “It was pretty sweet. There’s nothing like it. A dream fulfilled. The girls invested a lot of time and energy.”
Johnson was named the 2A Player of the Year and both she and Paredes were chosen to the all-state and all-district first teams. Thompson and Baker were district honorable-mention selections.
Griggs ended his look back by saluting those who had front-row seats for the championship ride — assistant coaches Amber Doremus and Jeremy Maddern, and support staff Julie and Johanna Werlund, and Cheryl Lewis.
“We have shared experiences that will never be forgotten,” Griggs said. “We cherish memories and cherish one another. It was a wonderful year — more than any one team could have asked for.”