Eugene — It was a career night to remember for Sheldon’s Paityn Rhode, a senior guard who has been a shining star on what has shown to be a rough start for the Irish this season. Sheldon entered conference play on Thursday sitting an even 7-7, a record that is a product of a season-ending injury to star Danika Starr and a very difficult non-conference schedule. Grants Pass entered with an encouraging start to the season, looking to put everything together to take down the Irish to open the conference schedule.
Sheldon’s start was a dream, Grants Pass start was a disaster. The Irish ran the table in the first quarter, shutting out the Lady Cavers with solid defense that contested them on each possession. As for Sheldon, Freshman star Diamond Wright would put up seven points to lead the Irish in the first, while Rhode had four points in the quarter. Sheldon would lead 15-0 after one quarter of play. Trailing 17-0, the Lady Cavers would finally break the scoreless streak with a pair of Mia Thompson free throws. Brooke Anderson would drill a trey and a pair of free throws to put Grants Pass within eight points in the second quarter. After the Lady Cavers run, the teams would trade buckets the rest of the way as Sheldon would go into the half leading 30-16 on Grants Pass. Rhode led the Irish with 13 points at the half, Anderson had nine points for the Lady Cavers.
Building off their first half successes, the Irish would put any doubt away of a Lady Cavers comeback with a 10-0 run while leading 33-17, headlined by a pair of Rhode treys to blow open a 43-17 advantage. Grants Pass would find some buckets from Atianna Vainuku-Johnson, Anna Tobey, and Mia Thompson, but a buzzer-beating trey by Sophie Miller would have Sheldon ahead 48-26 after three quarters. In the final frame, Grants Pass would open with a Tobey trey, however Sheldon would rip-off a 15-0 run headlined by Rhode’s three treys and the Irish would cruise 59-29 over the Lady Cavers to open conference play. Rhode put up 28 points on eight threes for Sheldon, a career evening for the senior.
Sheldon: This was a needed confidence boost for the Irish, who put on a show with Paityn Rhode in the perimeter game and Diamond Wright with her inside-out presence on both sides of the floor. Wright is only a freshman, but certainly a young woman with a massive ceiling of potential that’s just begging to be tapped into. Remember the name Diamond Wright, it’ll be a frequent one on recruiting lists for the next few years. As for Rhode, what a performance that she’ll certainly remember for a lifetime. If she keeps up this level of play, 6A might be in for a surprise come the playoffs.
Grants Pass: Everything that could’ve went wrong did for the Lady Cavers: Poor shooting, getting scorched on the boards, prolonged turnover rates, and bad luck on the defensive side of things. Lots of film watching is in order for Grants Pass, along with plenty of discussions in practice are also likely on the docket before they meet North Medford on Saturday.