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ON TO FINALS: The Badgers' Shauna Nelson, who loves to run the floor, brings the ball up against the Rangers. Nelson scored 11 points in the big win. (Observer photos/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).
ON TO FINALS: The Badgers' Shauna Nelson, who loves to run the floor, brings the ball up against the Rangers. Nelson scored 11 points in the big win. (Observer photos/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).

By Pierre LaBossire

Observer Staff Writer

BAKER CITY — This one was big, but there's a bigger one on the horizon.

The Powder Valley basketball girls dismantled the No. 1-ranked team in the state Friday, running away at the end 62-41 against Dufur in the 1A championship semifinal.

The Badgers, who have been ranked No. 1, 2 or 3 all season, will be going up against Old Oregon League rival Crane for the fourth time this season for the 1A state championship. That game begins at 6:30 p.m. in Baker City.

"I told them we only need a one-game winning streak," said coach Allen Bingham. "They have a lot of belief in their stuff right now."

Bingham said he continues to be impressed with the Badgers' defense. For the second straight game at the 1A state tournament, the Badgers did not allow a single opponent to score in double figures.

Bingham said that ever since Powder Valley lost to Crane at home in late January (by a score of 37-34), the team has jumped to a whole new level.

"The loss to Crane was the turning point in the season. After that game, things changed," he said. He said the seniors on the team started showing more leadership and the girls became more dedicated.

Also, for the second straight game, the Badgers had control virtually the entire game and withstood some furious comeback attempts. However, every time it looked as if Dufur might get back in the game, the Badgers responded, clamping down on defense and hitting key buckets or free throws to pull away.

Powder Valley has to go into the Crane game with confidence. The Badgers have beaten Crane two out of three games, and in the last match-up between the two teams, at the District 4-1A tournament championship game, Powder Valley won 42-28.

Crane is the only 1A team in the state which has beaten Powder Valley. Powder Valley is 23-3. The Badgers' other two losses came against 2A Pine-Eagle and Pilot Rock, and Pine-Eagle will finish third or fourth at the 2A state tournament.

Meanwhile, Powder Valley is the only team that has beaten Crane all season, period.

Joelle Bain broke through with a huge scoring game against Dufur. She poured in 25 points and had three steals and two blocked shots.

Bain could also teach some NBA players about shooting free throws. She shot 14-for-17 from the free-throw line against Dufur. Over the past four games, Bain has shot a Calvin Murphyish 34-for-38 (89.5 percent) from the free-throw line.

Bain also had a rare four-point play — she was fouled as she made a 3-pointer, then sank a free throw — against Dufur.

When asked if she had ever made a four-point play before, she said, "I don't think so. I usually don't shoot 3-pointers."

Bain also doesn't have a firm answer for why she has become so devastating at the free-throw line. Bingham said she has been like this ever since the loss to Crane.

"I don't really have a secret. I just starting shooting them well. I don't know what got into me," Bain said.

Powder Valley completely dominated Dufur early, pulling ahead 21-6 behind six points from Shauna Nelson and eight from Bain.

Bain's four-point play stretched the lead to 27-13 late in the first half, but Dufur ended the half on a little 5-0 run to make it 29-20.

Dufur scored right off the bat in the second half to cut the score to 29-22. That was as close as the Rangers would ever get again. Bain hit a couple of baskets, then Lacey Lyman, who had rattled several 3-pointers in and out, kept at it and her persistence paid off.

Lyman hit a trey and another bucket to give Powder Valley a big 40-23 lead.

Dufur went to a full-court press and that helped the Rangers go on an 8-0 run to get back in the game at 40-31.

Again, Powder Valley responded. Lyman hit another 3-pointer and the Badgers made sure to get the ball in Bain's hands, so Dufur would foul her. Bain's free throws kept Dufur at bay.

Bain said her teammates had the confidence to respond to Dufur's two big second-half runs.

"We don't give up, no matter what. We knew what we had to do and we did it," she said.

"They just don't crumble," said Bingham.

Nelson ended up scoring 11, while Lyman scored 10. Kali Miller led the team with seven rebounds.

1A State Semifinal

Powder Valley 62, Dufur 41

Powder Valley 19 10 12 21 — 62

Dufur girls 6 14 11 10 — 41

Powder Valley — Joelle Bain 5-10 14-17 25; Shauna Nelson 5-10 1-2 11; Lacey Lyman 4-12 0-1 10; Kali Miller 2-8 0-0 4; Alisha Thompson 2-4 0-0 4; Hailee Bingham 0-4 3-6 3; Sabrina Rich 1-2 1-2 3; Kris Wendt 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-51 19-28 62.

Dufur — Lacey Tibbets 2-7 4-4 8; Margo Wyatt 3-9 2-3 8; Jackie Thompson 3-11 1-2 7; Erica Miller 3-4 1-2 7; Angela Lindell 3-8 0-1 7; Whitney Hammel 2-6 0-0 4; Kelsey Pullen 0-1 0-0 0; Kaitlin Mead 0-2 0-0 0; Jennifer Albrecht 0-3 0-2 0. Totals 16-51 8-14 41.

Three-point goals — Powder Valley 3-14 (Lacey Lyman 2-6; Joelle Bain 1-1; Kali Miller 0-2; Alisha Thompson 0-1; Hailee Bingham 0-4), Dufur 1-10 (Angela Lindell 1-3; Jackie Thompson 0-4; Whitney Hammel 0-2; Kaitlin Mead 0-1). Fouled out — Powder Valley, none, Dufur, Jackie Thompson. Rebounds — Powder Valley 38 (Kali Miller 7), Dufur 34 (Lacey Tibbets 11). Assists —Powder Valley 9 (Joelle Bain 2; Lacey Lyman 2; Hailee Bingham 2; Kali Miller 2), Dufur 5 (Jackie Thompson 3). Total fouls — Powder Valley 15, Dufur 20.

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