La Grande junior Auslin McDaniel-Perrin (43) and her teammates prepare for a Class 4A state play-in game against Central Friday. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
La Grande will host Central in Class 4A play-in game
After a two-week break, the La Grande girls basketball team is ready to return to the court and make another postseason run.
Last year, the Tigers took second in state, falling to Mazama, 53-43, in the Class 4A state championship game at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
The time off has given the team a chance to recover and rest up.
Avery Albrecht has struggled with minor ankle problems, while Kali Avila has dealt with back pain after an intense Greater Oregon League season.
Even though La Grande head coach Doug Girdner is a little worried about the break causing the team to go a little flat, he feels the time off has been beneficial.
“Two weeks off is a long time, but we had a couple of girls that needed to heal up,” Girdner said.
La Grande’s Rachel Alexander agrees.
“It gave us a little bit more time to get focused on the game,” Alexander said.
The Tigers are ready to see how deep they can make it in the state playoffs. La Grande finished the season with a perfect 6-0 record in league play and are 16-5 overall. The Tigers finished the regular season ranked No. 9 in Class 4A.
Currently, on a seven-game winning streak the Tigers are practicing hard but cutting practices short. La Grande is spending about 90 minutes to stay mentally sharp and focus on game situations.
“We are learning (Central’s) plays and how they run things,” junior Auslin McDaniel-Perrin said. “Making ourselves better for (the game).”
Helping to prepare for the upcoming game, the La Grande has been scrimmaging against the boys team.
“The boys play differently, they play faster and stronger,” Alexander said. “The team we are about to play has had harder competition in their league. Playing the boys will help.”
The Tigers score an average of 51.95 points per game, while winning games by an average of 14.69 points. La Grande allows opponents to average just 44 points per game.
Coached by Julie McDonald, the Central is ranked No. 8 in the state. The Panthers finished 8-2 in the Oregon West Conference and are 20-3 overall. Central is currently on a five-game winning streak, in which it is averaging 59.8 points per game.
“If (the Tigers) come focused and ready to go, we’ll be OK,” Girdner said.
The Tigers will face Central in La Grande starting at 6 p.m. Friday.