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Powder Valley’s Marcus Pratt scored six points in the Badgers’ 60-55 victory over Imbler Friday. BRAD MOSHER/The Observer
By Brad Mosher
IMBLER — Powder Valley thrust itself back into the battle for an Old Oregon League title Friday when it knocked off Imbler, 60-55.
The loss dropped Imbler into a 5-1 tie with the Badgers atop the league standings.
The Badgers made a 10-3 run to take a 14-9 lead by the end of the first quarter.
But the Panthers came back with a run of their own in the second quarter, cutting a 21-12 lead to one-point at halftime, 29-28.
Thirty seconds into the third quarter, Imbler took the lead for the first time since early in the game on a pair of free throws by Casey Robertson.
The two teams battled for the rest of the game, neither being able to hold an advantage for long. Powder Valley rallied to take a small lead, but Imbler kept coming back to cut the lead to one point.
Imbler’s Garrett Bigej tied the game at 41-all with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter.
Bigej hit a second 3-pointer seconds into the fourth quarter to give the Panthers the lead.
Riley Kretschmer’s only basket in the fourth quarter was enough to give Imbler a 46-41 lead.
But Powder Valley began a rally that closed the scoring gap, with Quin Stephens’ 3-pointer making it just one point, 53-52, with 2:51 left.
A pair of free throws by Tyler Robinson gave the Badgers the lead — but only briefly. Less than 20 seconds later, Imbler’s Robertson moved the Panthers back into the lead with 2:16 left in the game.
Marcus Pratt drove through the middle of Imbler’s defense to score with 1:01 left and gave the Badgers the lead, 56-55.
Shae Wendt increased the Badgers’ lead with 39 seconds left by hitting a pair of free throws, then added another pair of free throws with eight seconds left.
Robinson led Powder Valley with 18, and Stephens had 13.
Wendt, Pratt and Logan Allen each had six points, while Noe Benites, Jason Benites and Brett Jones all finished with three points.
Kretschmer led the Panthers with 16 points, while Bigej had 12 and Robertson put in 10 points. Kain Shodin scored seven, while Kyle Johnson and Joe Griffin both had five.
According to Powder Valley coach Kyle Dixon, the Badgers can do better. “They are a tough team. I thought that we didn’t shoot very good, but our guys had a lot of heart and fought to the end.
“I can’t be more proud of them tonight — especially the way they played at the end.”
The two teams will have another chance to meet in the district tournament, Dixon added. “It will be another battle.”
Although the Badgers did manage a big run in the first half, Imbler made it hard to come up with another, Dixon said. “They are a physical team. They are a tall team. We just had to keep fighting.
“I thought tonight (Friday) we shot absolutely terrible. But they kept fighting and that is what won us the game.”
The Badgers will be on the road Friday to play Pine Eagle in Halfway, then host Wallowa Saturday.
Joseph will try to find its first league win Friday in Wallowa before traveling to Imbler Saturday.
Imbler 64, Pine Eagle 28
HALFWAY — The Imbler Panthers rebounded from the first league loss to easily defeat the Spartans Saturday, 64-28.
The win improved the Panthers to 6-1 in the Old Oregon League and kept them in a tie for first with Powder Valley.
Powder Valley 76, Joseph 23
POWDER VALLEY — The Badgers ran away from the visiting Eagles Saturday for a 76-23 victory.
The win improves Powder Valley to 6-1 in the OOL, and remaining tied with Imbler for the lead.
Brock Jones and Shae Wendt led Powder Valley scorers with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Chace Dixon added nine, Logan Allen had eight, while Marcus Pratt and Tyler Robinson each put in six points.
Austin Wells led the Eagles with eight points, while Noah DeLury put five and both David Lewis and Wil Story finished with three.
Cove 44, Joseph 17
JOSEPH — Led by 12 points from Colton DeMeerleer, Cove handed Joseph a 44-17 loss Friday.
The Leopards jumped out to a 20-4 lead and cruised from there.
Brandon Batty added 11 points for the Leopards in their win over Joseph. Jaden Moore scored eight.
Austin Wells led Joseph with six points, while Wil Story had three and four Eagles had two.
Cove 80, Wallowa 50
COVE — Behind 28 points from Brandon Batty, the Cove boys basketball team rolled by visiting Wallowa 80-50 Saturday night in Old Oregon League action.
The game was back and forth early on, with the score tied at nine-all midway through the first. But a 11-3 finish put the Leopards up 20-12 heading to the second quarter.
From there, Cove(11-8, 5-2) gradually added to its lead and Wallowa never got within 13 points.
Colton DeMeerleer added 18 points, Hunter Reddington had 12 points, and both Derrick Murchison and Carl Gray chipped in nine.
Wes Conrad led Wallowa (6-14, 3-4) with 21 points, while Pierce Millar chipped in 12 points.
On Friday, Wallowa defeated Pine Eagle 65-46. Conrad had 30 points, and both Millar and Spence Shelton put up 10 points.