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Thursday, July 9, 2009
Swishing in the Finals

By Mindi Rice
HoopGurlz

Bonnie Samuelson
Bonnie Samuelson led the long-range charge for the Swish.

OREGON CITY, Ore. -- Even at the End of the Trail, Cal Swish Black is known for its slow starts.

It took Swish a couple games to get going when the tournament started Monday, but the girls eventually rolled into the championship game. When that rolled around Thursday afternoon, it took them a few minutes to get their legs under them.

In nearly typical Swish fashion, their opponents took an early lead as Jazmine Redmon and Kellie McCann-Smith each hit a long three and the Swish missed a couple shots.

But after a 6-1 start by the Northwest Blazers, there was no turning back for Cal Swish, which went on a 10-0 tear, the first of many runs in the game, and eventually cruised to a 63-26 victory for the National Division title. In the American Division, hosts Oregon City Black took home the title with a 69-66 overtime win against Big Sky Hoops.

Despite frequent success at the EOT and a second consecutive trophy, with this Swish team, an EOT championship might be the Swish version of a slow start to the summer.

Jazmine Redmon
Jazmine Redmon helped lead the Blazers to the championship game.

"This is our favorite part of the year," said Bonnie Samuelson, who scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half. "We have a really good team this year; it's really fun. We love going on these road trips together."

Samuelson, the 5-foot-10, 2011 wonder, was the dagger for the Blazers, hitting three unanswered buckets -- including two long threes -- in a row early in the second half.

"When I'm open, coach Russ (Davis) always tells me to keep shooting," Samuelson said. "I missed a couple, but he just kept cheering me on and I eventually started knocking them down."

The Orange County, Calif., area team flew home two hours after winning the EOT title for a quick jaunt to its own tournament, the SWISH Summer Shootout, where Swish faces NorCal Elite in a Friday morning game. After that, and possibly exchanging laundry with their parents, it's back on the road for the girls, this time to Chicago for the Nike Summer Showcase.

And while things are certain to speed up for the Swish girls, their offense -- and defense -- might be just the perfect speed.

"Their half-court press is phenomenal," Blazers coach Stephen Klees said. "We wanted to run. We wanted to control the tempo ... and we didn't."

Redmon, a 2010 guard from Mead (Spokane, Wash.), led the Blazers with 12 points, their only player in double digits. Cassie Harberts, the No. 9 player in the 2010 class, led all scorers with 14, while Swish teammate Lauren Engeln added 10. Harberts, Engeln and Samuelson were all part of the Swish team that won the EOT in 2008 also.

"I've always liked this tournament," Harberts said. "We've always done well and played hard here. ... At the beginning, we kind of started off slow, but we're just starting to play our best basketball right now."

After a busy first half, Swish will spend the second viewing period on the East Coast at Music City Madness in Nashville, Tenn., and Nike Nationals in Augusta, Ga.

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Mindi Rice is an ESPN HoopGurlz staff writer. She previously was an award-winning sportswriter at the Tacoma News Tribune and a barista at Starbucks, and grew up in Seattle, where she attended Roosevelt High School before graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism. She can be reached at mindi@hoopgurlz.com.