Spartan girls fourth
By GERRY STEELE
The fourth-place game at the Class 1A state girls basketball tournament Saturday morning looked like a game between two teams that still hadn’t got out of bed.
Neither team shot well.
Neither team handled the ball well.
And, it was the fourth time Pine-Eagle and Powder Valley have squared off this season. So both teams knew their opponent very well.
When it was over, Pine-Eagle (25-6) had knotched its first win in four tries, 32-30. Powder Valley (21-6) had won both meetings during the Old Oregon League regular season, and edged the Spartans in the District 7 championship game last month.
“It was a fight all the way,” said Pine-Eagle coach Roger Gulick. “But the kids just wouldn’t quit.”
Gulick likened the season to climbing a ladder. He noted that the Spartans started the season ranked 13th, ended the regular season ranked 12th, entered district play ranked eighth, state ranked fifth, and finished fourth.
“The last few weeks we’ve just continued to climb the ladder,” he said.
The Spartan coach said Saturday’s game was not a classic.
“We played lethargic the whole game,” Gulick said.
“But I think our heart was bigger than some of our other championship teams.”
Pine-Eagle scored the winning basket with 5.6 seconds left in the game when Chelsie Gulick found Maddison Thatcher alone under the basket for a layin.
“That was the second time I’ve used that play in 23 years of coaching. I used it four times in overtime 23 years ago at Adrian,” Coach Gulick said.
“I hadn’t used it since then, but we put that play in a couple of weeks ago especially for the playoffs. The kids executed it absolutely perfect.”
On the play Maddison Thatcher inbounded the ball to Gulick. Bri Thatcher then set a pick for Gulick who then popped out near the tip of the key. Maddison Thatcher meanwhile used the same pick to keep going around the screen and under the basket.
“It just has Chelsie breaking off a pick, and Maddison going off a double pick off the inbounds play,” Gulick said. “Most teams won’t follow the inbounder on the play, and that left her open.
“What a way to end the season,” the Spartans coach said.
“That was our 31st game, the most games I’ve coached in a single season.”
The previous high was 30 games in 2005 when the Spartans went undefeated and won the 1A title.
Saturday, Pine-Eagle led 15-11 at halftime.
The Spartans shot just 22.2 percent from the field (6-of-27). But, Powder Valley was even worse, hitting just 21.7 percent (5-of-23).
The shooting didn’t get any better in the second half.
Pine-Eagle finished the game hitting 21.8 percent (12-of-55) and Powder Valley 26.1 percent (12-of-46).
Maddison Thatcher scored five points early in the third quarter, and Gulick two, as the Spartans increased their halftime lead to 22-12 with 4:44 left in the quarter.
Powder Valley answered with a 12-0 run of its own to take a 24-22 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Ali Abrego and Jayde Silbernagel each scored five points, and Alexandra Colton two in the run.
“We got up by 10 points and Powder Valley came back. But we didn’t fold,” Gulick said.
Four points from Maddison Thatcher, and three from Lena Carr helped Pine-Eagle regain a 30-26 lead with 3:22 left in the game.
Again, Powder answered.
Colton hit four straight points to tie the game at 30-30 with 2 minutes left.
Pine-Eagle then pulled the ball out and ran all but 11.1 seconds off the clock.
Then, after three straight timeouts —two by Pine-Eagle and one by Powder Valley — the Spartans ran their game-winning play.
But, there were still 4.9 seconds on the clock.
Powder Valley rushed the ball downcourt only to have Silbernagel tied up by Maddison Thatcher for a jump ball with 0.5 seconds left.
The possession arrow pointed in Powder’s favor and the Badgers called another timeout.
“I told the kids to just play smart,” Gulick said. “Even if Powder made the basket all that would do was send the game into overtime. And, Powder had several players in foul trouble so I think we would have had the edge.”
Gulick didn’t have to worry.
On the final play of the game, Colton popped out to the side from about 17 feet, but her shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
Pine-Eagle outrebounded the Badgers 45-36, including 19 offensive rebounds.
Maddison Thatcher led the Spartans with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Abrego led Powder Valley with nine points and 10 boards.
Gulick 2 3-6 7, B. Thatcher 0 1-2 1, Butler 1 1-2 3, Carr 2 2-3 6, M. Thatcher 6 1-5 13, Terjeson 1 0- 2, Davis. Totals 12 8-18 32.
POWDER VALLEY (30)
Abrego 3 3-5 9, K. Feik 2 0-0 4, Hampton 1 0-0 2, Colton 3 2-4 8, Stephens, Trindle, Silbernagel 3 0- 07, A. Feik. Totals 12 5-9 30.
Powder Valley 6
Three-point baskets — Silbernagel. Fouled out —Butler. Total fouls —Pine-Eagle 14, Powder Valley 16. Technicals —none.