- Mindi Rice
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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- It took four years and one of the strongest fields yet, but for the first time, the Nike Northwest Invitational championship trophy is staying at home in Oregon.
The trip to its trophy case will be so short that there won't even be a car ride involved. Just down a couple hallways and around a few corners, until the trophy comes to rest at the home of its owner -- Southridge (Beaverton, Ore.).
The host Skyhawks had a pair of 16-point efforts from Dominique Johnson, a 5-foot-7 senior, and Allison Greene, a 5-9 junior, propel them past a tough but tired Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) squad.
In past seasons, the trophy has gone home to Washington twice -- Auburn Riverside (Auburn, Wash.) in 2006 and Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) in 2008 -- and California once -- Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) in 2007. But the short trip is a sweet success for the 3-0 Skyhawks, the four-time Oregon 6A champions who were eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs last season.
"We don't want to feel that way again," Johnson said. "We want to come out with a lot of energy and just prove to everyone that it's not over. We're not going to give up."
In the earlier games, No. 8 Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) finished third behind 42 points from junior Brittany Rountree in a 93-37 win against Prairie (Vancouver, Wash.). South Eugene (Eugene, Ore.) defeated Central Catholic (Portland, Ore.), 52-50, and Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) beat Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, Wash.), 66-59.
Archbishop Mitty struggled against Southridge after Friday night's 67-60 horserace with Potter's House Christian. The Monarchs scored five points in the opening minutes then hit one bucket during a 17-3 Southridge run that spanned eight minutes.
"We'll need to learn how to channel our energy," Archbishop Mitty coach Sue Phillips said. "If we don't have the ability to fight through fatigue, we're going to struggle."
For the Skyhawks, the win -- and the 3-0 start to their season -- is a pleasant refresher of the success they have come to expect from their program.
"Last year, we were a really, really young team," coach Michael Meek said. "I think we can take from this (tournament), if we can really stay focused and play with good effort, we can be a really tough team."
Allie Lustig, a 5-6 senior guard, led the Monarchs with 10 points, while Classye James, an Oregon State-bound senior, added nine.
Prairie, WA 55, Central Catholic, OR 41
Potter's House Christian, FL 64, South Eugene, OR 49
Southridge, OR 57, Bellarmine Prep, WA 45
Archbishop Mitty, CA 59, Jesuit, OR 53
Central Catholic, OR 56, Bellarmine Prep, WA 48
South Eugene, OR 50, Jesuit, OR 47
Southridge, OR 70, Prairie, WA 36
Archbishop Mitty, CA 67, Potter's House Christian, FL 60
Jesuit, OR 66, Bellarmine Prep, WA 59
South Eugene, OR 52, Central Catholic, OR 50
Third Place: Potter's House Christian, FL 93, Prairie, WA 37
Championship: Southridge, OR 60 vs Archbishop Mitty, CA 42
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.