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CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: The Grant Union defense  all five players  collapse on La Grandes Seth Pennington before he goes up for a shot during the first half of Fridays game. Pennington didnt score on the play, but he did have a game-high 19 points. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).
CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: The Grant Union defense all five players collapse on La Grandes Seth Pennington before he goes up for a shot during the first half of Fridays game. Pennington didnt score on the play, but he did have a game-high 19 points. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

La Grandes 66-53 Greater Oregon League boys basketball victory Friday over Grant Union came down to a defensive change.

When we made our run was when we switched defenses on them, said La Grande coach Aaron Mills, who changed to a man-to-man defense and watched his team capitalize in the third quarter.

Mills didnt realize how big of a run

La Grande had 16-0 from about three minutes left in the third quarter to about six minutes left in the fourth. The Tigers, who picked up their second GOL win in as many games, pounded the ball inside and didnt miss many shots.

Were getting to the basket more than our opponent, Mills said. We really try to get the inside-out pass for the 3-pointers. We emphasize that and practice that all the time.

If the shot didnt work inside, La Grandes post players Kyle Bomberger, Skyler MacDonald and Tanner Mellinger kick it out to the 3-point shooters. Seth Pennington had a pair of 3-pointers as part of his game-high 19 points. Tyler Lester also had a 3-pointer among his 11 points.

But the defense won the game in the third. La Grande had a seven-point lead at halftime, but Grant Union (2-8, 0-2) was able to hit some shots and cut the gap to five at one point.

It doesnt hurt to change defenses now and then, Mills said. The nice thing about these guys is they can do both.

Lesters 3-pointer capped La Grandes run early in the fourth quarter, giving the Tigers a 55-34 advantage.

Ryan Courtney led the Prospectors with 18 points.

La Grande visits Baker today.

Grant Union boys 16 10 8 19 53

La Grande 18 15 19 14 66

Grant Union Courtney 5 6-9 18, Simmons 4 0-0 8, Officer 0 1-2 1, Carpenter, Moore 1 0-0 2, Colson, Ellison 4 1-3 11, Pendleton 2 4-4 8, Sampson 1 0-0 3, Fisher 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 12-18 53.

La Grande Nebeker, Tucker 0 2-2 2, Mollerstrom, Schuft 3 3-5 9, MacDonald 2 0-1 4, Moore, Pennington 6 5-7 19, Lester 5 0-0 11, Mellinger 2 0-0 4, McMahan, Bomberger 5 1-1 11, Larson 2 2-5 6. Totals: 25 13-21 66.

Three-pointers Grant Union, Courtney 2, Ellison 2, Sampson; La Grande, Pennington 2, Lester. Fouled out None. Total fouls Grant Union 16, La Grande 14. Technical fouls None.

Defense triggers victory

La Grande is playing such strong defense nowadays that a few extra fouls dont bother coach Isaac Williams.

Its just us being aggressive, Williams said after the Tigers pounded the Grant Union Prospectors 57-23 in Fridays Greater Oregon League game. I would rather us commit a lot of fouls being aggressive than us playing soft.

La Grande had 17 fouls to Grant Unions 12. The Prospectors never got more than six points in a quarter and found themselves down 32-12 at halftime.

Honestly, weve been working pretty hard on our fundamental defense, Williams said. It showed, with La Grande getting several steals that converted into easy layups.

The outside shooting helped, too. Christie Weaver, Lindsey Carmichael and Shalece Hibbert each had two 3-pointers and all scored in double figures.

I still dont think were shooting as well as we can shoot, Williams said.

Carmichael led La Grande (9-3, 2-0) with 13 points, with Weaver scoring 12 and Hibbert adding 10.

Amy Jones had nine points for Grant Union (3-6, 0-2).

La Grande visits Baker today.

Grant Union girls 6 6 5 6 23

La Grande 14 18 17 8 57

Grant Union Burgett 1 0-0 2, Krausse, Weigum, Armstrong 0 3-4 3, Pryse, Courchesne, Thunell 2 2-4 6, Jones 4 1-2 9, Voigt 0 0-1 0, Vidourek, Mathews 1 0-0 3. Totals: 8 6-11 23.

La Grande Weaver 4 2-3 12, Carmichael 4 3-4 13, Schuft 1 0-0 2, Long 1 0-0 3, Nebeker 3 0-0 6, Baum, Hibbert 4 0-0 10, Sternfeld 1 0-0 2, Rasmussen 1 5-6 7, Crouch, Jensen 0 2-2 2. Totals: 19 12-15 57.

Three-pointers Grant Union, Mathews; La Grande, Weaver 2, Carmichael 2, Long, Hibbert 2. Fouled out Armstrong, Crouch. Total fouls Grant Union 12, La Grande 17. Technical fouls None.

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