March 07, 2001 11:00 pm
TRUE BELIEVERS: La Grande girls reach semifinals while boys become spectators. (The Observer/C.J. Gish).
TRUE BELIEVERS: La Grande girls reach semifinals while boys become spectators. (The Observer/C.J. Gish).

By C.J. Gish

Observer Staff Writer

CORVALLIS La Grande entered Wednesdays game unranked and unnoticed. It left the talk of the tournament.

The Tiger girls basketball team pulled off the upset of the OSAA-U.S. Bank Class 3A State Championships when it upended top-ranked Marist 58-43 in the quarterfinals round.

No one knew we could beat them except us, La Grande assistant coach Mike Weaver said.

The loss was Marists (21-4) first at the hands of an Oregon school this season. The Spartans three losses coming into the contest were handed to them at a California tournament in December. Marist had won three of the last five state titles and were runners-up last year.

The Tigers play third-ranked Madras in the semifinals at 8 tonight at Oregon State Universitys Gill Coliseum. It is the first time in La Grandes history that its girls basketball team has advanced to the championship semifinals.

La Grande (20-7) stuck close, trailing 25-19 at the half, before it made its move in the third quarter. Elise Myer, who scored a game-high 24 points, including 19 in the second half, nailed a 3-pointer following a Marist inbound turnover.

Elise carried us in the second half, La Grande coach Isaac Williams said.

Christie Weaver grabbed a tipped ball for a steal on the Spartans ensuing possession, leading to Lindsey Carmichaels 3-point shot for a 35-33 lead.

From there, the Tigers gradually built a lead they would never relinquish. La Grandes defense held the taller Spartans, armed with one 6-foot-1 post and two 5-11 players, to single-shot attempts throughout the second half. In the first half, the Tigers were outrebounded 21-9 and gave up nine Marist offensive rebounds. In the second half, it was La Grande that won the battle of the boards, 19-8.

Thats the best weve rebounded all year, Williams said.

Shalece Hibbert found Myer cutting to the basket for a layup and Weaver hit two free throws to close the third quarter with a 39-34 lead.

In the final quarter, La Grande slowed the tempo of the game on the offensive side, taking huge chunks of time off the clock and forcing Marist to foul. The Tigers took advantage, making 14-of-16 free throws.

Marist had plenty of opportunities to climb back in the game. Kate Saltmarsh scored on a layup to cut La Grandes lead to 43-38 with 5:40 remaining and, after Hibbert missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw, Lanina Devereaux took a 3-point shot that bounced off the rim.

A Christine Paiement steal with four minutes left ended in nothing for Marist, as Devereaux missed her one-and-one free throw attempt. From there, La Grande regularly proceeded to the free throw line, steadily increasing its lead in the final 3:13.

Even though the Spartans led at halftime, it had to be considered a victory for La Grande, which never trailed by more than six points.

The Tigers took leads of 5-4 and 7-6 behind Hibberts 3-pointers and a fastbreak Carmichael layup. Marist pushed ahead 16-11 by the end of the first quarter and 19-13 two minutes into the second, but back-to-back baskets from Myer cut the deficit to 19-17 with 4:24 left.

Saltmarsh scored four of Marists final six points of the half, and Weaver grabbed a weakside offensive rebound for a putback with 36 seconds left in the second quarter to keep the Tigers close.

La Grande made 60 percent of its shots from the field (9-of-15) in the second half, while holding Marist to 24 percent (6-of-25).

Carmichael ended with 13 points and six rebounds. Weaver had 10 points, eight rebounds, five steals and four assists. Hibbert had five rebounds, four assists and four steals, and Amanda Schuft added six rebounds.

Saltmarsh paced Marist with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Devereaux had five steals, Ashley Chester scored seven points and Angie Sammons had six points and six rebounds.

La Grande girls 11 8 20 19 58

Madras 16 9 9 11 45

La Grande Nebeker 0-2 2-2 2, Weaver 3-6 4-4 10, Carmichael 3-6 5-6 13, Myer 9-17 3-4 24, Hibbert 1-2 4-5, 7, Schuft 0-3 2-3 2, Williamson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-37 20-24 58.

Marist Kehoe 0-2 0-0 0, Saltmarsh 5-12 5-6 15, Weiss 0-1 2-2 2, Devereaux 1-8 0-1 3, Chester 2-11 3-4 7, Lande 1-3 0-0 3, Paiement 2-5 0-1 4, Singer 2-4 1-1 5, Sammons 3-6 0-0 6. Totals: 16-52 11-15 45.

Three-pointers La Grande 6-12 (Myer 3-6, Carmichael 2-3, Hibbert 1-1, Weaver 0-1, Nebeker 0-1), Marist 2-15 (Devereaux 1-8, Lande 1-3, Chester 0-3, Singer 0-1). Total fouls La Grande 15, Marist 20. Fouled out Devereaux. Technical fouls None. Turnovers La Grande 29, Marist 23. Rebounds La Grande 28 (Weaver 8), Madras 29 (Saltmarsh 10). Assists La Grande 14 (Weaver 4, Hibbert 4), Marist 8 (Devereaux 3). Blocked shots La Grande 2 (Carmichael, Hibbert), Marist 2 (Chester, Sammons). Steals La Grande 14 (Weaver 5), Marist 14 (Devereaux 5).