March 06, 2002 11:00 pm
READY TO PASS: Amanda Shuft of La Grande is guarded by Philomaths Chelsey Gellatly during Wednesday nights state tournament game at Gill Coliseum. Shuft finished the game with 13 points. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).
READY TO PASS: Amanda Shuft of La Grande is guarded by Philomaths Chelsey Gellatly during Wednesday nights state tournament game at Gill Coliseum. Shuft finished the game with 13 points. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

CORVALLIS Down by two points at halftime Wednesday night, the La Grande Tigers took a look at their game and realized one thing was missing: heart.

Fueled by a renewed desire to win, the Tigers returned to the OSAA-U.S. Bank Class 3A Girls Basketball State Championships and posted a 46-24 victory over Philomath.

La Grandes defense held Philomath to seven second-half points, and that fed the offense, which went on a 16-2 run to start the third quarter.

Winning tonight wasnt about Xs and Os or execution, it was all about having lots of heart, La Grande coach Isaac Williams said after the game. That is the value of experience in the tournament right there. They didnt worry about being down by a few points. All of the girls just picked it up instantly.

The win puts La Grande (20-5) into todays 6:30 p.m. quarterfinal game against Molalla, which beat Siuslaw 46-39 late Wednesday night.

We just played with a lot of heart, said senior Shalece Hibbert, whose defense helped contain Philomath point guard Joanna Chadd. We realized that if we werent going to pick it up, we werent going to be going past the first round.

Chadd was Philomaths lynch pin, and La Grande did everything it could to keep the ball out of her hands. She led her team with 16 points, but the next-highest scorer was Chelsey Gellatly, who had just four points.

Chadd had 11 points at halftime. Philomath led 15-5 with 5:22 left in the second quarter; the Warriors scored just nine points after that.

At first, I dont think we took it in that she was that good, Hibbert said.

We havent really seen a point guard play that well, Williams said.

Philomath (18-9) was already going downhill when Chadd left the game 30 seconds into the third quarter with her third foul. Amanda Schuft made two free throws to tie the contest 17-17. Chadd returned a minute later, after La Grandes Christie Weaver scored four quick points.

Weaver, an all-tournament selection last year, didnt have any points in the first half.

Just like any player, she got a couple of easy shots there and she felt pretty good. She had a great third quarter, Williams said.

I remember at Ontario I went there and scored no points, and it was starting to look like that, Weaver said. Everybody else was trying to hold my confidence up.

Weaver, who finished with 13 points, canned a 3-pointer, then another long jumper.

Schuft, too, was making her move offensively, driving the baseline for a layup, then driving into the key for another layup. On the latter, she was fouled, and her free throw gave La Grande a 31-19 lead with half of the third quarter to play.

Chadd tried to take over the game, scoring four quick points, but a Schuft 3-pointer closed out the period. Schuft also scored 13 points.

Philomath had only one free throw in the fourth quarter.

Karli Nebeker scored 11 points, and Lindsey Carmichael had five steals and five assists.

We all knew what we had to do and we pretty much just did it, Nebeker said. This win just felt five times better because we werent sure if we were going to get it.

Philomath girls 9 8 6 1 24

La Grande 3 12 19 12 46

Philomath Gellatly 2-10 0-1 4, Taylor, J.Chadd 7-10 1-2 16, Cole, Arlyn 1-5 0-0 2, Re.Chadd 0-2 0-0 0, Hermes, George, Ru.Chadd 1-1 0-0 2, Collins 0-1 0-0 0, Pearson 0-2 0-0 0, Currans. Totals: 11-31 1-5 24.

La Grande Weaver 6-10 0-0 13, Carmichael 0-8 1-2 1, Schuft 3-6 6-7 13, Nebeker 4-7 2-2 11, Hibbert 0-4 0-0 0, Long, Baum, Goss, Rasmussen, Crouch 2-4 0-1 4, Jensen 2-3 0-1 4. Totals: 17-42 9-13 46.

Three-pointers Philomath 1-3 (J.Chadd 1-2, Re.Chadd 0-1), La Grande 3-13 (Weaver 1-2, Carmichael 0-4, Schuft 1-3, Nebeker 1-2, Hibbert 0-2). Fouled out None. Total fouls Philomath 14, La Grande 14. Technical fouls None. Turnovers Philomath 24, La Grande 13. Rebounds Philomath 21 (Taylor 5), La Grande 28 (Crouch 5). Assists Philomath 5 (J.Chadd 2, Arlyn 2), La Grande 10 (Carmichael 5).