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UP HIGH FOR THE BOARD: Powder Valley's Joelle Bain (34) led the Badgers with 13 points Saturday. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).
UP HIGH FOR THE BOARD: Powder Valley's Joelle Bain (34) led the Badgers with 13 points Saturday. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).

By Raenelle Kwock

Observer Staff Writer

NORTH POWDER — Tough man-to-man defense in the second half lifted the No. 2 Powder Valley girls over Wheeler in a first-round playoff Saturday and into the 1A state tournament.

"We knew we had to come out and be strong and take it to them," Powder Valley's Shauna Nelson said after the 43-25 victory.

The district champion Badgers were unable to run in the first half as the Falcons, the No. 4 team from the Big Sky, decided to hold the ball. The Falcons only lead of the game at 6-5 came off a 3-pointer with time running out in the first quarter.

The Badgers led 12-7 at halftime.

Powder Valley coach Allen Bingham said the Badgers did not panic and knew it would be hard for the Falcons to stay with them in the second half.

"I think we did a good job," he said.

Powder Valley's Joelle Bain was 11-for-12 from the free-throw line with one field goal for 13 points.

"I pride myself on being a good free-throw shooter," Bain said. Bain shot 11-for-11 at a district playoff game against Wallowa Feb. 20.

A block by Bain set the defensive tone at the beginning of the third quarter.

"We manned up on them," Bain said. "It stopped the stall thing. It was great man defense."

Powder Valley's Hailee Bingham drained a 3-pointer to push the Badger lead to 17-7 in the third quarter. She followed with a baseline 3-pointer with about four minutes remaining in the quarter to give the Badgers a 22-11 cushion.

The Badgers headed into the fourth quarter with a 24-15 lead.

The Badgers had several scoring attempts come up short before Bain was fouled with 5:34 remaining in the game.

Bain knocked in two free throws, then Lacey Lyman drilled a 3-pointer. The Badgers had a 28-15 lead.

The Falcons closed to within 30-20 but the Badgers pulled away for good afterward.

Lyman finished with 12 points. Kali Miller and Hailee Bingham had eight points apiece.

The Badgers (21-3) play No. 4 Days Creek at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the opening round of the 1A state tournament in Baker City.

Coach Bingham said the Badgers are excited about the state tournament.

"Hopefully, we keep on going," Nelson said.

Powder Valley 43, Wheeler 25

Wheeler girls 6 1 8 10 — 25

Powder Valley 5 7 12 19 — 43

Wheeler — Alicia Hankins 0 2-2 2, Elisa Herrera 2 1-2 5, Katie Stevens 1 0-2 2, Cara Greenfield 3 0-0 8, Ashley Josi 1 0-0 2, Jessica McKay 1 0-0 3, Jennifer Greenfield 1 1-3 4, April Williamson, Duygu Yavuz, Kaylee Griffith. Totals: 9 4-9 25.

Powder Valley — Hailee Bingham 1 2-2 8, Alisha Thompson 0 0-2 0, Shauna Nelson 1 0-0 2, Lacey Lyman 4 2-6 12, Kali Miller 3 2-4 8, Joelle Bain 1 11-12 13, Trista Wendt, Caitlin Miguez, Sabrina Rich, Kris Wendt, Tara Fuhrman. Totals: 12 15-26 43.

Three-pointers — Wheeler 3 (C. Greenfield 2, McKay); Powder Valley 4 (Lyman 2, Bingham 2). Fouled out — Hawkins. Total fouls — Wheeler 13, Powder Valley 10. Technical fouls — None.

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