LA GRANDE GIRLS TAKE EIGHTH PLACE AT 3A STATE TOURNAMENT
By Pierre LaBossire
Observer Staff Writer
CORVALLIS The La Grande basketball girls struggled from the floor down the stretch in their 3A state tournament consolation final Saturday and weren't able to hold off the Cascade Cougars in a 48-47 overtime loss.
La Grande went 2-2 at the tournament and finished in eighth place.
One of the losses came in the first game of the tournament against eventual state champion Madras, which beat Burns in the finals 40-26.
La Grande finished the season with a record of 20-8.
Coach Isaac Williams said the team had a great season. Not only did the girls place at state after losing their all-league point guard Lindsey Carmichael to a serious knee injury, the seniors on the team Carmichael, Christie Weaver and Amanda Schuft placed at state four straight years.
"These were great seniors and they had great careers," he said. "I was glad I was along with them."
Weaver will be moving on to join a former teammate, Camille Woodfield, at Boise State next season. Williams thinks Carmichael has a shot to play college ball, too. Carmichael is an extremely good soccer player and may play college soccer.
Williams said there was some disappointment among the girls because they had such high expectations coming into the tournament.
"Our goal in the beginning was to win the state championship. I'm proud of what these guys have achieved," he said.
The girls had chances against Cascade (a Salem-area school with an overall record of 22-5), but they went cold from the field for the final 20 minutes of the game.
They shot just 23 percent (8-for-35) in the second half and overtime, and finished the game shooting 28 percent (17-for-60).
Weaver led the Tigers with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Schuft had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Amber Rasmussen had eight points and nine rebounds.
The La Grande girls were hurt down the stretch mostly by the Cougars' Emily Kindle, who scored 15 points, almost all in the paint and almost all after halftime.
Two free throws by Schuft gave the Tigers a 40-38 lead with two minutes left, but Cascade's 5-foot-2 guard Lacey Ocupe responded with a basket with 1:54 left to tie it at 40-40.
La Grande failed to convert on its next possession and Cascade held the ball for a last shot.
The Cougars got a shot right under the rim, missed, grabbed the rebound and got off another shot, but missed again, and this time La Grande's Kayla Crouch got the rebound.
The Tigers had 19 seconds to set up their final shot, but missed at the buzzer.
In overtime, a Schuft basket with 2:41 gave La Grande its only lead of the extra period at 42-41.
Kindle hit a basket to give the Cougars the lead for good at 43-42 left with under two minutes left. Ocupe, who ended the game with a broken nose after a collision with Weaver in the final second of overtime, hit four free throws in the final minute to keep La Grande at bay.
With the score at 46-43 with 16.8 seconds left, the Tigers tried two three-pointers but weren't able to convert.
Weaver, who had a 33-point game against North Bend, made the all-tournament first team, along with Burns' Chelsea Ross and Ontario's Stephanie Hawk.
The Tigers lost their first game to Madras after scoring just 36 points.
However, Madras was a defensive demon all tournament, as the White Buffaloes gave up 29 points to Pleasant Hill, 40 to Tillamook and 26 to Burns (for an average of 32.8 points) en route to the state championship.
La Grande has a lot of fire power coming back next year. All-league selectees Amber Rasmussen, Kayla Crouch and Jill Jensen are all coming back.
Cascade 9 11 11 9 8 48
La Grande girls 10 13 6 11 7 47
Cascade Lacey Ocupe 4 7-8 15, Julie Naatz 2 0-0 4, Emily Kindle 6 3-6 15, Sara Majors 1 3-8 5, Amanda Boer 4 0-1 9, Maegan Kuntz, Ann Hortsch, Megan Carrow. Totals: 17-43 13-23 48.
La Grande Christie Weaver 6 1-2 14, Amanda Schuft 4 2-2 11, Amber Rasmussen 3 2-2 8, Kayla Crouch 0 3-4 3, Jill Jensen 2 0-2 4, Jenna Jensen 0 2-2 2, Amanda Timm 2 1-2 5, Nikki Nielson. Totals: 17 11-16 47.
Three-pointers Cascade 1 (Boer); La Grande 2 (Weaver, Schuft); Fouled out Crouch, Carrow. Total fouls Cascade 19, La Grande 19. Technical fouls None.