LA GRANDE BOYS HIT'EM WHEN THEY COUNT
By Pierre LaBossire
Observer Staff Writer
The La Grande basketball boys looked for a while as if they were going to blow The Dalles right out of the gym, but perhaps in the long run, it might have been more valuable to the boys that they had to make a ton of clutch shots and free throws down the stretch.
La Grande won 59-52, after surging out to a lead of 31-13 late in the first half.
Ben Pettit was huge for the Tigers, scoring nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Three of those final-period points came on an amazing off-balance reverse lay-in (and a foul) which had the La Grande gym buzzing for the rest of the night.
La Grande coach Aaron Mills said the Tigers did a great job hitting clutch free throws in the fourth, but felt that La Grande did let The Dalles back in the game.
With La Grande playing a zone for much of second half, The Dalles hit seven 3-pointers, including four in the fourth.
"They (The Dalles) shot the ball really well. We kind of hung back and let them shoot," he said.
Mills said that after La Grande got more aggressive on defense and put a hand in the face of the Indian shooters, The Dalles didn't make quite so many shots.
"It's a young team. They have to learn how to do everything. They're learning how to finish," said Mills.
Mills added that Pettit might be one of the best sophomore players in the state right now.
The game was sluggish at first. La Grande (2-0) swarmed on defense and held The Dalles to just four points over the first 10:30 of the game. The Tigers eventually built their lead to 31-13 late in the quarter, but over the next 12 or 15 minutes, The Dalles dominated.
The Dalles hit three treys early in the fourth quarter to cut the La Grande lead to 49-45 with three minutes remaining.
Then, Pettit went to work. He made a tough baseline shot in the fourth, grabbed a rebound on a missed shot for a putback basket, then came his spectacular shot that looked like something some other guy named Pettit might have done half a century ago.
Pettit drove the lane on a fast break, got bumped off-balance, went under the rim and flung up a soft reverse lay-in that hit nothing but net. He made the free throw for a 3-point play to make it 54-47.
The Dalles wasn't done, hitting a trey and two free throws to cut the lead to 55-52 with 48 seconds left. Kelly Moore and Kevin Bomberger went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final seconds to secure the win.
La Grande next plays at the Red Lion Classic in Pendleton beginning Thursday.
La Grande 59, The Dalles 52
The Dalles 4 13 13 22 52
La Grande 8 24 8 19 59
The Dalles Richie Koch 4 2-3 14, Bryant Cornell 3 3-4 9, Cameron Ferguson 3 10-10 19, Austin Krol 1 0-0 2, Bo Gridley 2 3-5 7, Eli Carter 0 1-2 1, Ajay Rundell, Nate Shaver, Dane Spradlin. Totals: 13 19-24 52.
La Grande Tyler Tucker 2 1-4 6, Rick Anderson 4 3-4 13, Kevin Bomberger 1 4-5 7, Jeremy Hamill 0 1-2 1, Kelly Moore, 3 2-2 8, Ben Pettit 6 7-11 19, Shaun Cederholm 2 1-1 5, Trent Evins, Cory Steele. Totals: 18 19-29 59.
Three-pointers The Dalles 7 (Koch 4, Ferguson 3), La Grande 4 (Anderson 2, Tucker, Bomberger). Fouled out Cornell. Total fouls The Dalles 22, La Grande 18. Technical fouls None.