The Powder Valley girls basketball team struggled to find the basket throughout the first half and into the third quarter of Thursday night’s season opener.

Once the Badgers did find the range, though, they took off, and turned a tight contest against the defending Class 1A state runner-ups into a blowout.

Powder Valley broke the game open with a 25-4 run spanning the third and fourth quarters and made an early statement with a 64-43 victory over Country Christian in North Powder.

“I thought we were playing OK, but in the third quarter we got some good shots that got us going,” said Megan Bingham, who had a game-high 18 points. “The crowd joined in. We got aggressive and took it to them.”

Bingham was part of the spark during the decisive run with nine points in the final 3:07 of the third quarter. The junior tied the score at 30-all with a 3-pointer, then grabbed a steal and a layup to give Powder Valley the lead at 32-30 — its first lead since 9-8 midway through the first quarter.

Then in a flurry, the lead reached double figures by the end of the third. Josie Ash put in a layup and a jumper. Bingham scored two more field goals. And Logan Nedrow put the Badgers up 42-32 with a layup to close the third quarter.

“I thought they just started playing good basketball,” head coach Allen Bingham said. “They started seeing reads. They were pushing the ball. I don’t know if the defense picked the offense up or the offense picked the defense up, but it just started clicking on both ends. I thought as we pushed the ball harder, (Country Christian) wore out quicker.”

Kim Williams knocked down two 3-pointers early in the fourth to cap the run and give Powder Valley a 48-34 advantage. The Cougars never pulled closer than 12 the rest of the way.

“As we got ahead we gained more confidence and our offense came with it,” Megan Bingham said.

Williams and Ash both joined Bingham in double digits with 11 points each. Nedrow added nine points. The offense, which sputtered through a 7-for-33 first half, came to life to shoot 19-for-32 after the break.

The Badgers’ defense was also stout. Powder Valley limited Country Christian to 18-for-48 shooting and forced 34 turnovers — 17 in each half.

The stingy defense — particularly the forced turnovers — kept Powder Valley relatively close in the first half. The Cougars led by as much as 20-13 in the second quarter before the Badgers closed strong. Two late layups by Megan Hufford and Autumn Davis capped a 7-3 spurt to make it just a 23-21 deficit at halftime.

“We’re a pretty athletic team,” Allen Bingham said. “I think that’s going to be one of our strengths. I thought that was a turning point as we upped the pressure in the half court.”

Mollie Lewandowski led the Cougars with 17 points, and Sarah Phillips added 12. No other player for Country Christian scored more than five points. The Cougars, however, did own a 40-31 rebounding edge.

Powder Valley (1-0 overall) resumes play at home today against Jordan Valley.

Also

Outlaws open with big win: Shelby Moncrief and Riley Gray both scored 13 points as Enterprise coasted Wednesday to a 71-26 season-opening victory at Wallowa.

Karli Bedard also reached double figures with 10 points and Kaylie Melville had eight. Ten players in all scored for the Outlaws, who pulled away quickly with a 29-4 first-quarter run. Gray had 11 of her points in the first. The Outlaws extended the lead to 43-8 by halftime and rolled to the win.

Jamie Johnston scored 11 points in the loss for the Cougars. Ashlyn Young added five.

The Outlaws (1-0 overall) head to the Ione Basketball Bonanza beginning today, while Wallowa (0-1) is at the Elgin Lions Tournament this weekend.

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