Astoria's Malory Dundas (right) drives on Stayton's Kenzi Hollenbeck in Thursday's quarterfinals action. (Jim Beseda photo)
Astoria's Malory Dundas (right) drives on Stayton's Kenzi Hollenbeck in Thursday's quarterfinals action. (Jim Beseda photo)

FOREST GROVE — It took Astoria’s girls basketball team a little more than a quarter to find its footing Thursday afternoon.

After the top-ranked Fishermen hit their stride, the Stayton Eagles couldn't stop them.

Astoria’s Maitlin Young finished with a game-high 18 points and Shelby Bruner and Malory Dundas added 14 points each, pacing the Fishermen to a 54-49 victory in Thursday’s quarterfinals of the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 4A girls basketball state championships at Forest Grove High School

Astoria opened a 28-26 halftime lead and then went on a 16-0 run in the third quarter that helped send the Fishermen (22-4) into Friday’s semifinals against Cascade, a 51-28 winner over Klamath Union.

“The first one is tough because I think kids have to settle in,” Astoria coach Teke Silva said. “Obviously, the stage is big, the lights are bright. Have we been here before? Sure, but we’re talking about 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old kids, so there’s always that settling-in component and getting down to business.

“I think it took us a little bit, but I think it took Stayton a little bit as well. It was a great first half of basketball, that’s for sure.”

Yes, it was. There were six lead changes and a couple of ties before Dundas, the 5-foot-10 junior, hit a jumper from the top of the key to give Astoria a 28-26 lead at the break.

When Stayton’s Kenzi Hollenbeck got inside and scored on a left-handed hook shot to cut Astoria’s lead to 30-28 with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter, it still looked as if it was anybody’s game.

Then came a six-minute stretch where the Fishermen’s seized control, going on a 16-0 run that broke the game open.

At one end, Astoria went 7-for-10 from the field with a basket by Tayla Huber, a pair of three-pointers by Young, a mid-range jumper by Young, and three straight baskets by Bruney that pushed the Fishermen’s lead to 46-28 with 1:01 left in the third quarter.

At the other end, Stayton came away empty on nine possessions, going 0 for 5 from the field and 0 for 2 at the free-throw line with three turnovers.

“We knew we had to lock in defensively,” said Young, Astoria’s senior guard. “And our defense led to offense, which is why we were able to go on that run — by locking down and playing the gaps defensively.”

Stayton got very few clean looks at the basket during that pivotal stretch. Almost all the Eagles’ shots were contested. And then there were instances when they got a little careless with the ball.

“Astoria is well-schooled defensively,” Stayton coach Tal Wold said. “We maybe got a little panicked, lost a little poise, got a little dribble-happy, and maybe forced some shots. When you miss some, you get a little antsy, and then Astoria hit some shots.

“We’ve stayed in games because we do defend and play so hard. But tonight against a good team, we couldn’t allow that much of a gap. We couldn’t give them an 18-point lead. They’re just too good.”

Astoria still had a 54-43 lead when Stayton mounted a 6-0 run in the final 47 seconds to make the final score look more respectable.

“I’m proud of what we did,” Silva said. “Here’s the thing: Stayton is the best defensive team in the entire state. They give up the least amount of points and what did we end up with — 54?

“If you go back and look at their scores, I’m guessing they haven’t given up 54 all year. So, we did some things offensively to execute against a very tough defensive team and I couldn’t be more proud of that effort.”

Before Friday, the most points Stayton (19-5) had surrendered in a game was 46 to Cascade in a 49-46 win on Feb. 8. So, yes, what the Fishermen did Thursday, shooting 48.9 percent (22 of 45) from the field, including 60 percent (6 for 10) from three-point range, was impressive.

“We went in at halftime and we’d given up 26 points, which is six more than we want to be giving up in the first half,” Silva said. “But we also chalked it up to Stayton hitting some big shots and then we hit some big shots, right? We were still up. But we definitely focused on the defensive side of the basketball in the second half.

“Stayton is a team that can shoot it really well, but most importantly they read really well, so you have to be able to sit it gaps, jump to the ball, and force them to go to where they don’t want to go on the floor.”

Stayton’s Kathryn Samek scored a team-high 15 points off the bench and Liv Smart added 14 points for the Eagles, who shot 40.9 percent (18 of 44) from the field, including 29.6 percent (8 of 27) from long range.

“Astoria is really good,” Wold said. “We had a stretch in the third when we couldn’t score and we could stop them. They’re just so talented, but I was so proud of our girls. We battled our butts off and it was a super-fun game. That’s what high school sports is all about.”

No. 4 Cascade 51, No. 5 Klamath Union 28

Maddie Dustin scored a game-high 20 points with nine rebounds as the Cougars shook over a slow start and overwhelmed the Pelicans.

Cascade’s Rozalyn Schmunk finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Pearl Pruett added seven points off the bench to help lift the Cougars (18-3) into Friday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal against top-ranked Astoria.

The Cougars jumped out to a 21-9 halftime lead and then opened the third quarter on a 19-7 run that put the game out of reach.

Klamath Union’s Keely Hall finished with nine points and a game-high 18 rebounds for the Pelicans (17-4), making their first appearance in the quarterfinals since 1989.

No. 3 Philomath 55, No. 11 Marist Catholic 23

Zoee Howard scored a game-high 12 points to lead three Philomath players in double figures as the Warriors ran away from the Spartans of Eugene.

Philomath’s Reagan Heiken chipped in 11 points off the bench and Anneka Steen added 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds as the Warriors (21-5) advanced to the semifinals for the fourth year in a row.

“We had a lot of girls come in and contribute,” Philomath coach Ben Silva said. “We did a fantastic job on the defensive end, which is kind of our bread and butter, and that gave us some energy on the offensive end.

“It’s normal to have some nerves, but we used them to build some energy. We came in and it was a little tight to start. It took a few minutes for either team to score, but once we knocked down some shots, we just started rolling from there.”

Marist Catholic’s Addie Ruckwardt finished with eight points and six rebounds, and Kaylynn Guevara added seven points and six rebounds for the Spartans (12-12).

No. 2 Henley 81, No. 7 Madras 54

Annie Campos scored a game-high 17 points to lead four Henley players in double figures as the Hornets of Klamath Falls overwhelmed the White Buffaloes.

Anna Harper added 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, Jewell Northcutt had 12 points, and Senia Campos finished with 10 points off the bench to help send the Hornets (22-2) into Friday’s 8:15 p.m. semifinal against Philomath.

“Very nerve-racking,” Henley coach Randy Denson said. “You think about it all day long today and we lost in the quarterfinals last year, so our goal was just to win one game — the first one — and we played well enough to do that tonight.”

Henley defeated Madras 74-62 at the Sisters Shootout in December, so the Hornets had a good idea of what they were getting into Thursday.

“In December, they killed us on second-chance points, so the key tonight was closing out on threes and rebounding,” Denson said. “I felt like we were ready yesterday, I believe we’re bought in, and everybody played a part in this win.”

The Hornets shot 42.9 percent (30 of 70) from the field to Madras' 37.0 percent (20 of 54). Henley also enjoyed a 50-33 advantage in rebounds.

Sasha Esquiro led Madras with 14 points, Katelyn Tanewasha added 12, and Maija Poland had eight.