For the first time since 2012, the Enterprise Outlaws girls basketball team will play in the state semifinals.
Lexie Gassett scored 11 points, Karli Bedard added 10, and the Outlaws’ defense shut down the Vernonia Loggers in the second and third quarters on the way to a 37-31 win Thursday night in the 2A state quarterfinals at the Pendleton Convention Center.
“It is a blessing to be here,” Enterprise Head Coach Mike Crawford said. “To win a game here, we’re sure of finishing in the top five. It speaks highly for the league and highly for the program. This is a good team.”
The contest, which was tight early, turned in the second quarter when Vernonia went cold. The Outlaws held Vernonia without a point for more than 7:30 while they built a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Bedard started an 8-0 run with a field goal, and Gassett capped the rally with a pair of free throws for a 19-11 lead with 1:13 to play in the first half. Shelby Moncrief added a jumper just before halftime for a 21-13 lead at the break.
“I thought we played pretty good defense all night,” Crawford said.
He pointed out that Vernonia often seemed content to shoot deep 3-pointers, especially with sisters Brooklynn Walters and Jordan Walters, and Enterprise let the Loggers have those shots.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Crawford said. “If you want to shoot from 25-28 feet, I’m going to let you.”
The lead reached double figures in the third on a jumper by Bedard. A Carsyn Miller basket and a free throw by Moncrief later put the Outlaws ahead 28-15 after three quarters for their largest lead.
Brooklynn Walters, who led the Loggers with 14 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to get the Loggers back in the game, but they got no closer than six points as the Outlaws held on.
Vernonia hit three first-quarter 3-pointers to hang close early, and was tied with Enterprise at 11-11 after one quarter before the shots stopped falling. The Loggers, who finished just 27 percent shooting, had only four made field goals through three quarters before heating up the fourth in their comeback attempt.
Enterprise shot just 33 percent in the win, but the Outlaws held a 28-23 edge in rebounding and forced Vernonia to commit 22 turnovers. Ashlyn Gray grabbed eight rebounds for the Outlaws, and Miller collected five steals, both game highs.
The quarterfinal win was the first for Enterprise since a 64-22 win over Riddle in the 2012 playoffs. That year’s squad went on to place fifth.
The Outlaws (20-6 overall) will face Blue Mountain Conference rival Heppner in tonight’s semifinals with the winner punching a ticket to Saturday’s state championship game. Heppner has won two out of three contests between the teams, including a 41-33 win when the teams met two weeks ago in the BMC semifinals at the Pendleton Convention Center.
“My girls are excited,” Crawford said. “Hopefully they’ll get some rest and we’ll see what happens.”