TIGERS TAKE FIFTH AT STATE
CORVALLIS As far as last second shots go, La Grande head coach Aaron Mills got just the one that he wanted in Saturday's 3A consolation championship against Sutherlin.
"It felt like everything was kind of falling into place," Mills said. "That was the set we were running and we got the ball to Ben (Pettit) right where we wanted to. It just didn't fall. That's basketball."
Pettit's miss, a three-foot turnaround jumper, came with two seconds left and La Grande trailing 42-41. Far West league champion Sutherlin (24-4) went on to win the game, 43-41, for third place in the tournament. Greater Oregon League champion La Grande (18-10) finished fifth, going 1-2 at Gill Coliseum.
"I was trying to keep an eye on (Christian) Siltanen and when I saw Ben flash in front of me and catch the ball I knew he was going to take the shot," said Sutherlin's Zach Bailey, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points and 11 rebounds. "I tried to put a body on him but more than anything I didn't want to foul him."
After opening the game with with a Pettit layup and a Trent Evins to Christian Siltanen lob and slam, both in the first minute, La Grande struggled to put the ball in the basket the rest of the first half. The Tigers made just three more baskets in the next 17 minutes and went into halftime trailing 22-13.
The 6-foot-4, 240 pound Bailey dominated on the block in the first half, scoring 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds. La Grande had 11 rebounds as a team in the first half.
"I felt like there was a bit of a letdown, still, from the previous night," said Mills, referring to La Grande's 52-42 semifinal loss to Wilsonville Friday. "To know that everything we'd accomplished had come to an end it was hard to turn around and get fired up again for another game. But Sutherlin had to do the same thing, so give them credit."
Behind 26-18 with a little over a minute to play in the third quarter, back-to-back three-pointers by Rick Anderson cut the Sutherlin lead to 30-26. A 25-footer by Sutherlin's Randy Summers as time expired in the third quarter put the Bulldogs up 33-26.
In the fourth quarter, La Grande battled back to make the score 40-39 after a Siltanen steal and Kevin Bomberger layup, then went ahead on the next possession thanks to a Bomberger steal and a Siltanen basket with 45 seconds to play. After Justin Parnell was fouled and sank two free throws to put the Bulldogs ahead 42-41, La Grande had an opportunity to win but Pettit's last second shot fell short.
Siltanen led all scorers with 20 points to go with seven rebounds. Pettit had nine points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
"I was proud of the way our guys battled," Sutherlin head coach Craig Stinnett said. "La Grande is a very good team, one of the best teams that we've had to face this year. We were able to accomplish 99 percent of the goals we set for this year."
The loss was the last game for La Grande seniors Chris Lowry and Rick Anderson.
"It's not the way I'd have liked to end the season," Lowry said. "I think the thing that I'll miss the most is my teammates, I get along so good with every single one of them that it's really made this year special."
Even with the success of this year's team, expectations for next season's squad will be even higher. Highlighted by the senior campaigns of first-team Greater Oregon League all-stars Pettit and Siltanen, the Tigers will be one of, if not the, preseason favorite for all of 3A. Bomberger also returns as a starter for the Tigers.
"You've really got to give Rick and Chris all the credit for the success we've had this year," Mills said. "Their leadership made the difference, being that they were the only seniors on a fairly young team."
Mills said he will sit down with the returning players in the next week or so to go over goals for the upcoming season.
"What it boils down to is asking them how good they want to be and then what we can to do accomplish that," Mills said. "I think these kids are going to want to be back and better next year."
For Siltanen, his expectations for next year's team are lofty, but clear cut.
"I want to win it all," Siltanen said. "I think we're as good as any of the teams (at state). We'll need Trent (Evins) to step up and replace Rick but I think he can do it. If we work hard in the offseason and can get everyone together for summer ball I don't see why we shouldn't think we can do it."
Notes In the boys final, Baker lost to Wilsonville, 44-33...Greater Oregon League girls champion Burns defeated Philomath in the girls consolation championship...Burns high school graduate and University of Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens was in attendance at Gill Coliseum, wearing a Hilanders hat and cheering on his younger sisters, Burns standouts Jessica and Maria Clemens...In the girls championship game, North Bend defeated Marist, 59-40.
LA GRANDE (41)
Anderson 3 0-0 8, Bomberger 1 2-2 4, Siltanen 7 5-5 20, Lowry 0 0-0 0, Pettit 2 5-8 9, Stebbins 0 0-0 0, Evins 0 0-0 0, Townsend 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 12-15 41.
Wolford 2 0-0 5, Parnell 2 4-4 9, Summers 1 2-2 5, Osborne 1 0-2 2, Bailey 6 7-10 19, Wilder 1 0-0 2, Martineau 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 13-18 43.
La Grande 7 6 13 15 41
Sutherlin 10 12 11 10 43
Three pointers: La Grande, Anderson 2, Siltanen; Sutherlin, Wolford, Parnell, Summers, Wilder. Total fouls: La Grande, 15; Sutherlin 12. Fouled out: none.