West Linn — The potential is there, the talent is there, they have everything that they need to possibly take home a 6A state championship in 2022. However, can they put the entire combination together when it matters the most? That is the question that will loom over the Benson Lady Techsters as they continue their pursuit of the first program state title since 2019 when they defeated Cameron Brink led Southridge Skyhawks. They’ve shown to be the best in the PIL, but can they be the best in 6A? After their performance in West Linn, it is a fair question to be asking out loud.
Entering the season, I had high expectations for the Lady Techsters, tabbing them immediately at #3 in the state and a state contender from the get-go. Things seemed to be on that trek, even with close losses to Jesuit, Clackamas, and Barlow on the record, as it presents an accurate depiction of what the program is capable of achieving. Malaya LeSueur is an absolute beast on the floor, flashing a motor that seemingly never runs out of gas and a head of fearless effort on the floor. Her talent and execution aren’t brick and mortar, they are customized and unique for LeSueur’s type of play. Mahogany Chandler-Roberts has the talent, size, and potential to be the best post in Oregon, already showing as a sophomore that she is at least a top-10 post in the state. She works hard on the glass and executes in the paint with encouraging success, but still has work with intangibles and patrolling the floor more efficiently. Maurianna Hashemian-Orr and Oria Boyd also pencil in as great supports, both capable of going off if things start clicking for them on the floor.
With West Linn on the docket Friday night, the expectation was that the Lady Techsters would deliver a convincing victory, but this tale was far from that at all. They found themselves in an 8-0 hole right out of the gate, but LeSueur, Chandler-Roberts, and Boyd found rhythm to dig out of it to lead 16-13 after one quarter. Back-to-back three-point plays by LuLu Kennybrew and Onna Brown kept the momentum rolling, and after trading buckets for a few minutes, the Lady Techsters played their best ball of the night to close the half. A 9-0 run that was defined by forced turnovers, efficient shooting, and great game flow blew open a 35-22 lead going into halftime. Aside the cold start, the Lady Techsters showed why I believe in them as a state contender and the potential they have to win it all. The second half is what brings out the reasonable question: Can they put it all together when it matters the most?
An ice cold third quarter defined by a lone field goal put Benson on the heels of a 38-35 lead entering the fourth quarter. The third was one where it seemed everything simply started not working and that they lost their identity: The hustle came to a halt, they were seemingly getting beat out for boards by an undermatched opponent. The shots they hit in the first half turned to complete bricks in the third quarter, and lackluster defense gave way too many points for West Linn. The Lions had many cracks to pull the upset in the final quarter, but the amount that Benson could put together got them through 52-42. Benson won, which is all that really matters in retrospect, but it is also a reality check that talent alone won’t get them to the blue trophy. Benson can win it all, but they need consistent, balanced gameplay to pave their path moving forward, which starts on Monday in a PIL showdown with the talented, upbeat Jefferson Democrats in the MLK Classic at Franklin HS.