The screams coming from inside the Central Catholic locker room said it all.
The Rams had just finished knocking off Norcross (Ga.) 68-61 for the championship of the Nike Interstate Shootout on Sunday night at Lake Oswego High School, and they were bouncing off the walls from the way they dispatched one of the nation’s top teams.
The fourth-ranked Rams (8-3) didn’t just win the game, they took it from the Lady Blue, rallying from a seven-point deficit in the third quarter by imposing their will. It was a stark contrast from a week earlier, when Central Catholic lost two of three games at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona.
“I’m ecstatic,” Rams coach Sandy Dickerson said. “These kids have come so far in the past couple of weeks. They’re playing as a unit, they’re talking out there, they’re getting things done as a team.”
The win over Norcross (11-2), ranked 20th in the nation by USA Today, came one night after an 11-point victory against previously unbeaten Oregon City, which is ranked 14th.
“Coming back from the Arizona tournament, we were discouraged and we didn’t play well,” senior forward Kailee Johnson said. “So coming back to win this tournament against high-caliber teams, that was really big for us.”
The 6-3 Johnson scored 18 points, rose above the crowd for tough rebounds and defended all over the court.
As the momentum turned, Johnson picked up a technical foul for taunting after blocking a shot. Johnson’s intensity rubbed off on her team.
Said Johnson: “We got that sense of urgency. None of us wanted to lose that game. They were talking before the game, like the West Coast can’t get it, so that was personal to me.”