La Grande Tigers girls basketball Head Coach Brian Wright said his team is learning how to win close games.
LHS certainly showed it has that ability Tuesday night.
Camryn Collman scored a game-high 14 points and hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:08 to play as the Tigers rallied in the final quarter to earn a 43-37 home victory over the Pendleton Buckaroos.
“As long as we keep fighting and working hard we have a chance,” Wright, who is in his first year as the Tigers coach, said.
The Tigers overcame a rough third quarter that saw them commit 10 turnovers and managed to hang close down the stretch, then made the key plays late. Kenzie Williams took a pass from Lauran Rinker for a layup and a 36-36 game with 1:55 to play. Pendleton followed with a missed free throw and turnover before Collman drained the winning trifecta — her only 3-pointer of the game — from the corner on a kick out from Williams, who had four assists.
“I was like, ‘I need to take my time. This one’s going in, forget about the other ones,’” Collman said of the go-ahead shot.
Rinker iced the win a few seconds later when she got open underneath the basket on an inbounds play and converted a layup for a five-point lead.
The win was the Tigers’ fifth in a row overall, and second straight in games decided by 10 points or less. The key, Wright said, is holding teams under 40 points.
“We believe if we can keep teams under 40, we’re going to win about 95 percent of the time,” the coach said. “When I first proposed that to the kids, they looked at me like I was a little bit nuts, (but) we’ve been finding that like tonight, (allowing) 37, if we had let them get over 40 it could have been a totally different ballgame.”
That number indeed appears to be magic for the Tigers. They’re 7-0 when giving up less than 40 points, and 1-3 when surrendering 40 or more.
“The kids have started to buy into that,” Wright said.
La Grande overcame a slow first few minutes of Tuesday’s contest to take a four-point lead late in the first on a Grace Neer layup, and midway through the second stretched the advantage to 22-10 on a jumper by Jacie Howton.
Pendleton scored the final eight points of the half to pull within four, then opened the second half on a 9-2 run to take a 27-24 lead, one of three times the Buckaroos led by three in the second half.
Collman said the team “lost our heads a little bit” and its momentum during the third quarter, adding “we really needed help from the bench (in that stretch), and they provided for us. They encourage us to be better.”
Neer, who had all six of her points during a 19-5 run to build La Grande’s double-digit margin, showed one facet Wright said he’s liking about the team — anyone can step up.
“Different kids can do different things, whether it’s rebounding (or) scoring, to contribute to the team on different nights,” he said.
Neer’s offensive burst, for example, helped jumpstart the offense. Alexyss Chamberlain added six points on a pair of 3-pointers — one late in the third for a 31-30 lead after three — and collected four steals off the bench. And Ella Dunlap shook off foul issues to net all six of her points in the second half to keep the Tigers close when Pendleton pulled ahead. She also grabbed a team-best nine rebounds.
Natalie Neveau and Muriel Hoisington both led Pendleton with 11 points, and Katie Bradt had nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
La Grande (8-3 overall) travels to McLoughlin Friday to resume Greater Oregon League play.
Tiger boys fall at Pendleton
Despite three players reaching double figures, the La Grande Tigers boys basketball team couldn’t avoid its second straight loss, falling on the road to the Pendleton Buckaroos Tuesday, 71-57.
Pendleton used a big second quarter — outscoring La Grande 21-11 — to build a double-digit halftime lead of 40-29, one the Buckaroos continued to add on to in the second half.
Braden Bell scored 17 points to lead the Tigers. Justin Jenner had 13 points, and Kaleb Myer added 12.
La Grande (4-7 overall) travels to McLoughlin Friday in a Greater Oregon League contest.
Badger girls grind out victory
The Powder Valley Badgers girls basketball used a strong third quarter to grind out a 42-32 road win over the Imbler Panthers Tuesday night in Old Oregon League play.
Powder Valley clung to a 20-19 edge at the half, but scored 15 points in the third and kept Imbler in check to build a 35-26 lead as it stayed unbeaten in OOL action.
Megan Bingham scored 12 points and seven rebounds to lead the Badgers. Belle Blair added nine points.
Imbler was led by Caysie McGinness, who had 16 points, and Sidney Bowman added six points.
The Badgers (12-2 overall, 3-0 OOL) host Wallowa Friday, while Imbler (3-8, 1-1) travels to Griswold Friday. Both are OOL contests.
Powder Valley boys pull away in fourth
Omar Benites scored a team-high 13 points, Roper Bingham had 10 of his 12 points in the second half, and the Powder Valley Badgers boys basketball team pulled away in the fourth quarter to take a 40-30 road victory over the Imbler Panthers Tuesday in Old Oregon League action.
The low-scoring, defensive battle went into the final quarter with Powder Valley leading 24-23 before the offense broke loose for 16 points. Bingham had six in the quarter, and both Dominick Grende and Reece Dixon hit big 3-pointers to help the Badgers build the lead. The Panthers, though, held Powder Valley to its lowest-scoring game of the season.
Jayce Burnette led Imbler with 16 points, and Grant Slater added eight points.
Powder Valley (9-5 overall, 2-1 OOL) hosts Wallowa Friday, and Imbler (4-7, 1-1) heads to Griswold. Both are OOL games.