Timberwolves fire up basketball season with senior-less squad

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Anna Sherman (13) secures an opening and puts one up from three against Mountainside. Sherman scored the only three-pointer of the night from the Wolves in her five points scored.
Anna Sherman (13) secures an opening and puts one up from three against Mountainside. Sherman scored the only three-pointer of the night from the Wolves in her five points scored. Henry Kaus/Tualatin Life

Following Mountainside loss, Tualatin sustains 4-5 pre-season record

Breaking into the 2021-22 winter basketball season, the Tualatin girls program saw one of the largest shifts in their year-to-year roster, exchanging six of their 11 players on the team – five of which were rotating starters – from the 2021 spring squad.

Tabi Searle (23) dives after a loose ball in their Mountainside matchup. Searle scored six points on the game while downing both her free throws.
Tabi Searle (23) dives after a loose ball in their Mountainside matchup. Searle scored six points on the game while downing both her free throws. Henry Kaus/Tualatin Life

This all led to a season-start of mystery in how this group would perform, lacking play time together and experience on the court. So far, the Wolves have gone 4-5 to close the pre-season after a 47-29 loss to the Mountainside Mavericks.

But what makes up this team? Certainly not seniors.

Of the 11 players on the roster, only two had periodically started on last year’s varsity squad – juniors Tabi Searle and Olivia Poulivaati. Although, Poulivaati sustained a second season-ending ACL tear in her high school career leaving Searle in a rather precarious situation after the Wolves graduated their star-studded senior squad last year – a grou p she played and started with in both her freshman and sophomore seasons.

“I feel like I’m a freshman because it’s all new,” Searle told Tualatin Life. “There’s not one person I played with last year. So, for now, it’s getting used to how each other play and how we can use that to play off each other.”

The spring 2021 team was led by a college-bound senior class including Natalie Lathrop (University of Nevada), Aurora Davis (Carleton College, Minn.), Kasidy Javernick (Pacific Lutheran University, Wash.), Sidney Dering (Lacrosse at Kent State University, Ohio) and Teagan Gaviola that were bound for a deep playoff run should that have been available.

This year, it’s an all-new cast with 5-foot-11 Jaylyn Arosemena taking up arms along with junior captains Searle (5’11) and Anna Sherman (5’7). Of course, without a senior on the team for the first time in at least a decade, the season’s start wasn’t without its difficulties.

“It’s been all back to fundamentals and learning our defense,” Searle said. “We just need to work on how to play big players, because we only have two bigs and we’re going to play big teams.”

Even still, through the Portland-based Pacific Office Automation (POA) Holiday Classic tournament that took place the last week of December, the Wolves went 2-1 in their bracket after wins against Liberty High School (58-28) and Annie Wright (60-37) out of Tacoma, Wash., falling to Westview on the final day, 42-36.

In possession, Macy Marg (15) calls out plays to the Timberwolves in their 47-29 loss to Mountainside to close out the early season of non-league play.
In possession, Macy Marg (15) calls out plays to the Timberwolves in their 47-29 loss to Mountainside to close out the early season of non-league play. Henry Kaus/Tualatin Life

Following the Westview defeat, came their largest deficit yet – an 18-point loss to Mountainside with a final margin of 47-29. This score, however, wasn’t all that met the eye.

Off rip, junior Olivia Silliman landed a two-point shot only to be responded to by the Mavericks’ 6-foot Lindsey Wilson. A personal foul by Sherman allowed a Mountainside free throw and Arosemena snuck in a layup in the paint. The first quarter closed with only seven points scored and Tualatin leading 4-3.

Through tipped balls a-plenty and several steals, the Wolves kept it competitive, leading to a similar situation in the second period.

“We came out with a lot of energy,” Searle said. “It starts with energy, starts with the bench. We were going out to get ball tips; we were beating them in rebounds; I think we even had more steals than them.”

After four scores and seven missed shots, the Wolves led 12-9 with 1:42 in the half. The Mavericks, although, turned the tide in the short amount of time. After three consecutive three-point plays – two drawn by Wilson – Mountainside began their lead to end the half 18-12. This ballooned into 33-21 after the third quarter and 47-29 after regulation. The energy, blocks and rebounds that guided Tualatin through the first half landed on the Mavs.

Statistically, the Wolves shot 12-for-36 from the field and 4-for-6 at the line bringing their scoring average down to 42.7 points per game while ranking 23rd in the state.

Up next are Three Rivers League matchups housing seventh-rank Lakeridge and 10th-rank Oregon City among others, the young Wolves itching to gain more team experience and make an impact this year.