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COMET ON THE COURT: Powder Valley point guard Hailee Bingham shoots over Cove's Cassie Mills earlier this season.  Bingham, a junior, was an all-league selection last season as a sophomore along with teammate Kali Miller.  (The Observer/JOE SOVA).
COMET ON THE COURT: Powder Valley point guard Hailee Bingham shoots over Cove's Cassie Mills earlier this season. Bingham, a junior, was an all-league selection last season as a sophomore along with teammate Kali Miller. (The Observer/JOE SOVA).

Tony Adame

Staff Writer

To these girls, basketball is a way of life.

The way most people eat and breathe, they've played hoops since they were little.

"When Hailee (Bingham) and Kali (Miller) were in the seventh grade, they both made the AAU team in La Grande, and at the same time they were playing for our team in Powder Valley," Powder Valley head coach Alan Bingham said. "So that's six a.m., up and practicing here, go to school, then practice in La Grande after school.

"Then you've got games on the weekends. So it's fair to say they've put in a lot of effort to develop their skills."

Skills that have been on prominent display this season. Powder Valley is 11-1 in the Old Oregon League, 16-3 overall and ranked sixth in the latest 1A coaches poll.

Point guard Bingham is averaging 10.6 points, 3.6 assists and a whopping 4.6 steals per game in league play.

Miller, a post player, has averaged a double-double against OOL foes at a clip of 14 points and 11.8 rebounds per contest. Both Bingham and Miller are juniors.

All this on a team that lost six seniors after falling to Crane in the 2A state title game a year ago.

"I think I've got more aggressive this year," Miller said. "But personal things aren't really what we are about. What we are best at as a team is playing together. We get out there and everything meshes. It's fun."

Miller has been dominant in the post at times this year, displaying a wide array of post skills.

Ball fakes, off hand shots, name it and she's probably got it in her repertoire.

Despite her scoring and rebounding ability, it's her passing that her coach praises.

"People don't realize how good of a passer she is," Alan Bingham said. "You have to be ready because she'll see you if you're open and zip it in there."

Zipping up and down the court and passing the ball to her teammates is what Hailee Bingham continues to excel at.

A three-year starter, Bingham understands the Badger offense and the need to push the ball up the floor in order for her team to be successful.

"I know my teammates are working hard to get open, all the girls on our team really run hard to get down the court and beat the defense," Hailee said. "We've got awesome wings and I want to make sure I get them the ball."

Bingham's ability to get her Powder Valley cohorts the ball doesn't go unnoticed by the people on the receiving end of her passes, nor does the impact Miller has in the post.

"I know I can throw the ball to Kali or Kris (Wendt) and they can do something with it," Powder Valley senior Alisha Thompson said. "And with Hailee, she always makes good passes. Our team works really well together and we utilize that."

As Powder Valley heads into the final weekend of regular season play, they will get a sharp tune-up before districts, hosting undefeated Pine Eagle (12-0 OOL, 21-0 overall) Friday.

After that, the Badgers have their sites set on making a return to the state tournament.

"We've definitely talked about it," Hailee Bingham said. "It's where we want to be."

"We're taking it one game at a time," Alan Bingham said. "But I think we're going to be in the thick of it."

Regardless of this season's outcome, both girls return next year as seniors.

"That's nice," Alan Bingham said.

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