La Grande falls to Mazama in 4A title game

By Chris Baxter, The Observer March 12, 2013 10:33 am

La Grande’s Breanna Partney scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in the Lady Tigers’ 53-43 loss to Mazama in the 4A title game Friday in Corvallis. CASEY KELLAS/The Observer
La Grande’s Breanna Partney scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in the Lady Tigers’ 53-43 loss to Mazama in the 4A title game Friday in Corvallis. CASEY KELLAS/The Observer
 

Mazama closes game on 14-4 run as La Grande comes up short of championship

by CASEY KELLAS / The Observer 

CORVALLIS — The Lady Tigers came up just short of bringing home La Grande’s first girls team title, falling to Mazama 53-43 Friday night in the 4A state championship game at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.

The game was tied at 39-all with five minutes left, but after La Grande’s Breanna Partney fouled out, the Vikings went on a 14-4 run to close the game and win the championship.

“We played a good ballgame, put ourselves in a position to win it, things just didn’t go our way down the stretch,” LHS head coach Doug Girdner said. 

Mazama came into the game having won its previous two contests by a combined 54 points.

But the Lady Tigers gave the Vikings all they had.

After falling behind 10-4 early in the first quarter, La Grande went on a 7-0 run to close the period with an 11-10 lead.

The game remained close in the second quarter, with LHS stretching its lead to six points at 20-14. But Mazama clawed back into it and tied the game at 20-all with 1:30 left in the half.

The teams swapped leads after that, and the Vikings held a 26-25 lead at halftime.

“We tried to get the ball in the post more, and it worked for a while, but (Mazama) made adjustments as well,” Girdner said of the chess match with the Vikings.

“In a game like this there is going to be a ton of adjustments.”

The third quarter saw three ties and three lead changes, with the Vikings again sinking late points to hold a one-point edge entering the fourth at 37-36.

The game appeared to be heading to the final minutes, but with 5:48 remaining and the Vikings clinging to a 39-38 lead, Partney picked up her fifth foul and was forced the bench.

“I was really disappointed in myself,” said Partney, who finished with 12 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of play. “But I knew the team could pull together.”

“It’s really hard to foul out in a situation like that,” Girdner added. “The whole game was so rough. But that late in the game, you’re going to play your best kids, no matter how many fouls they got.”

The Lady Tigers seemed flustered after that moment, and Mazma went on an 11-2 run until a Madison Elliott bucket with a minute to go cut the score to 50-43.

“I tried to bring the team in and tell them we still had (time),” senior Lauren Mills said. “I just wanted everyone to focus in and know that we’re not done yet.”

But the Vikings were able to hit their free throws during the final minute and the Lady Tigers simply ran out of time, and their goal of bringing home a title fell short.

“It was a David and Goliath story,” Mills said. “It just wasn’t our storybook ending like we wanted.”

Mills led La Grande with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Anna Grigsby added six points. Madison Elliott had five points and eight boards, while Denise Comfort finished with three points and six rebounds.

Both Lilly Page and Lexus Miller-Moylan added two points.

For Mills, Partney, Comfort and Elliott, the game marked the end of their high school basketball careers.

“I’m just glad we had an awesome support system behind us,” Comfort said. “Wish we would have done better, but we came a long ways from where we started.”

But the fact that they made it this far is going to be something that sticks with them.

“It’s going to be definitely something I’ll remember,” Elliott said. “Just the fact that we were here.”

The coaching staff felt the same way.

“(We) told them don’t regret what you don’t have,” Girdner said. “Be happy with what you have. We told them you’re going to look back on this day and you’re going to have nothing but good memories. Why? Because you played with heart.

“Our goal from Day 1 was to make it to the championship game. And we didn’t just dream it, we did what it took to get here.”