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La Grande Observer Daily Paper 07/21/14

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ROCK, PAPER...: La Grande head coach Aaron Mills and his team is the talk of Corvallis after upsetting Siuslaw. The Tigers face an even bigger challenge today against No. 4-ranked Wilsonville. (The Observer/TONY ADAME).
ROCK, PAPER...: La Grande head coach Aaron Mills and his team is the talk of Corvallis after upsetting Siuslaw. The Tigers face an even bigger challenge today against No. 4-ranked Wilsonville. (The Observer/TONY ADAME).

Tony Adame

Staff Writer

CORVALLIS — At the end of Wednesday's 52-37 La Grande Class 3A state quarterfinal win over Siuslaw, the Tigers, the only team to win their quarterfinal contest by double digits, didn't do much celebrating.

It may have been a bit of surprise, having just shut down one of the state's top players, Siuslaw point guard Ben Voogd.

Or it may be that the Tigers already had their minds on another game.

"It's great that we won, but no, we didn't really get all rah-rah about it," La Grande forward Chris Lowry said. "Which I think is a good sign. I think it means that we're already focusing on Wilsonville."

La Grande fans should be familiar with Wilsonville — it's the same Wildcat team that knocked the Tigers out of the state playoffs one year ago.

"I know it's been a long time coming for this game, at least in my mind," La Grande head coach Aaron Mills said. "They beat up on us pretty bad last year and I'm happy we're going to get a chance to play them again."

Wilsonville, champions of the Tri-Valley League, are led by senior Jeremy Wilson, who averages 22.1 points per game.

Once again, the Tigers have a definite advantage in the post. Wilsonville center Matt Walter (3.1 points per game) will have his hands full trying to deal with 6-foot-6 center post Ben Pettit.

Pettit, fresh off posting 31 points, 14 rebounds and 9 blocks in Wednesday's win, has been one of the most impressive players at the tournament.

"Ben was really in the zone," Mills said. "I was surprised when Siuslaw decided not to double team him but we took advantage of it and got him the ball. That's always been our plan: get the ball to Ben."

La Grande point guard Rick Anderson recalls last year's loss to Wilsonville.

"I remember we hung with them in the first half for awhile and then they put us away," Rick Anderson said. "They ended up beating us by twenty points or something. It wasn't pretty but this year we feel like a completely different team."

A La Grande (18-8) semifinal win would represent the first time any boys team from La Grande has ever played in a state championship game in basketball.

Game time against Wilsonville is 3 p.m. In the other semifinal game, Greater Oregon League runner-up Baker (21-9) takes on Far West League champion Sutherlin (24-3).

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