The La Grande Tigers girls basketball team always felt in control of its Tuesday night contest against the Irrigon Knights, even though the Tigers had just an eight-point lead at halftime.
They made sure they were in command after the break.
Camryn Collman and Ella Dunlap both reached double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively, and the Tigers used a strong second half — and a 13-0 third-quarter run — to blast the Knights, 63-31.
“At halftime, we talked about how we had not only a size advantage inside against their zone, but an ability advantage, I felt, as well,” Head Coach Brian Wright said. “We talked about making sure we swing the ball to one side and then get the ball reversed, and then the posts were going to be open.”
The Tigers were crisp on their passing much of the night, but especially in the third quarter, when they had six assists on their seven made field goals. Kenzie Williams, who had nine points, fed Jacie Howton for a layup and a 35-23 lead midway through the third. Howton later returned the favor, finding Williams for a score and a 37-24 advantage.
The Tigers then assisted on three 3-pointers late in the third — two off of kickouts following an offensive rebound — as part of the big 13-0 push for a 50-27 lead after three quarters.
“We have worked on passing a lot and talking as a team,” Dunlap said. “This game we were able to work on that because of the advantages (we had). We were able to see the open passes.”
Wright called the effort in the passing game “much better” than of recent contests, noting that the Tigers had their passing issues in last Friday’s game against McLoughlin.
“We talked at halftime (that) our shooting percentage is way better when the ball goes into the post and then comes out and our kids have their feet set. Very pleased with the ball movement — pleased with the effort,” he said.
All told, La Grande had 17 assists on 24 made field goals. Collman and Lauran Rinker had four apiece and Williams chipped in with three.
Rebounding was another strong suit for La Grande, as the Tigers — who had six players on their roster listed taller than Irrigon’s tallest at 5-foot-7, used that size advantage judiciously. As a team, the Tigers had 46 rebounds to the Knights’ 25, and collected 20 offensive rebounds. Dunlap led the way with eight rebounds total and six on the offensive end. Williams had seven boards and both Grace Neer and Alexyss Chamberlain added five.
“We did really good crashing the boards,” Williams said. We got a lot of offensive rebounds which helped us score more points and get more shots, and we moved the ball really well in the second half and got good open shots.”
Neer also had nine points — seven in the first half — and Chamberlain added eight for La Grande, which shot 42 percent and was 4-for-9 from 3-point range.
JaLay Burns led the Knights with 13 points, while Alyssa Luna added a team best six rebounds.
The Tigers (10-3 overall) return to Greater Oregon League action Friday with a key matchup at Baker, with both teams sitting at 2-0 in the GOL.
Carrying over the solid ball movement from Tuesday will be vital to the Tigers if they want to upend Baker, which has won the last two GOL titles.
“We need to be able to communicate and pump each other up, and pass as well as we did today,” Dunlap said.
LHS boys fall on the road
A second-half rally by the La Grande Tigers boys basketball team came up just short in a 51-50 road loss to The Dalles Riverhawks Tuesday night.
La Grande was down 31-19 at the half before scoring 21 third-quarter points to get within 44-40. The Tigers pulled even closer, but The Dalles held on for the win.
Cristian Mendoza and Hunter Youngblood both scored 11 points to lead La Grande. Zach Wiggins and Kaleb Myer added nine apiece.
La Grande (4-9 overall) travels to Baker Friday for a Greater Oregon League contest.