LA GRANDE BOYS BEAT ONTARIO, 71-54
BAKER CITY There was some discussion in the La Grande boys' locker room before Monday's game against Ontario as to what defense La Grande should open up with.
"We were going to go zone but we decided against it," La Grande head coach Aaron Mills said. "We just went man. We wanted to prove our five were better than their five and we wore them down."
La Grande did wear Ontario down, in the form of a convincing 71-54 victory, and in the process secured the top seed in the Greater Oregon League tournament and home court advantage throughout.
Against Ontario, La Grande was led by Ben Pettit's 22 points and seven blocks and Chris Lowry's 17 points.
La Grande went 30-of-51 from the field for a bawdy 58 percent.
The previous two contests between La Grande and Ontario had been close, with each team winning at home and each time by a margin of six or fewer points. Now, it seems as if La Grande is playing their best basketball at the most important time of year.
"We went through our slump about three weeks ago," Mills said. "Illness, trying to figure out our identity, everything that teams go through.
"Now we're stepping it up and guys that other teams hadn't seen all year are starting to step it up."
In the first half, with Ontario using all five defenders to try and stop Pettit, Christian Siltanen and Rick Anderson, Troy Stebbins stepped in and scored six first quarter points and Kevin Bomberger added four to stake La Grande to a 37-26 halftime lead.
"They used all five guys to stop Christian, Rick and Ben and we surprised them by reversing the ball and attacking the other side of the court because they weren't paying any attention to our four or our two," Mills said. "And when those guys starting hitting shots Ontario couldn't pressure those three guys anymore and it caused problems for them."
Nick Babij led Ontario in scoring with 19 points.
Trent Evins added eight points for La Grande and Siltanen had seven.
Tonight, Mac-Hi plays at Baker in a loser out game for the right to play at Ontario Thursday.
The winner of that game then travels to play La Grande. Both La Grande and Ontario have automatic berths in the 3A state tournament by finishing in the top two in the GOL.
"We've tried to play out all the different scenarios with our scouting, trying to stay a step ahead," Mills said. "Right now our guys are confident, but they're also cautious."
LA GRANDE (71)
Pettit 10 2-2 22, Lowry 6 5-7 17, Siltanen 3 1-2 7, Evins 4 0-1 8, Stebbins 2 2-2 6, Anderson 2 1-2 5, Bomberger 2 0-0 4, Townsend 1 0-0 2, Weaver 0 0-0 0, Warner 0 0-0 0. Totals 30 11-16 71.
Babij 6 7-9 19, Blaylock 8 0-1 16, David 4 2-2 10, Schram 2 1-2 5, Contreras 1 0-0 3, Uchida 0 1-4 1, Mejia 0 0-0 0, Gasekler 0 0-0 0, Toombs 0 0-0 0, Wilson 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 11-18 54.
La Grande 20 17 13 21 71
Ontario 18 8 12 16 54
3-point goals: Ontario, Contreras. Total fouls: La Grande 17; Ontario 16.