By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Congratulatory slaps on the back.
And, more tears.
That described the scene in the Baker High School gym Saturday night after Powder valley had won its first Class 1A state girls basketball championship. Players, coaches, parents, grandparents and other Badger fans celebrated after Powder had defeated Crane 42-31 in a rematch of the 2004 girls title game. (Crane, which lost to Pine-Eagle in last year's title game, beat Powder 45-33 in the 2004 game.)
andquot;Absolutely,andquot; said Powder coach Allen Bingham, when asked if Saturday's win removed the bad taste of the 2004 loss.
andquot;The girls and I think this is much more fun.
andquot;Give credit to Crane. They are a good team. We have a lot of respect for them, for Stub (Crane coach Stub Travis). We're good friends during the summer. Our teams go to summer camps together.andquot;
But Saturday belonged to the Badgers (25-4). Bridesmaids in 2004 and 1981, the Badgers weren't to be denied in 2006.
Leading just 20-19 at halftime, Powder Valley came out and pounded the ball inside to Kali Miller and Candra Clark in the third quarter. That duo combined for 12 of Powder's 15 points in the quarter.
andquot;We knew we had the advantage inside,andquot; Bingham said. andquot;We knew we had to move the ball and work it inside. Our girls are very good at passing the ball, moving it around. And, we hit some big shots.
andquot;We didn't shoot that well from outside tonight, so we decided to work the ball inside,andquot; Bingham said. andquot;We knew if we could get the ball to Kali at the high post, she could either pass it to an open teammate, or take her shot. And, we had Candra down at the low post. They just complemented each other so well.andquot;
After Crane's Kyla Potter scored on a rebound to give the Mustangs a brief 21-20 lead early in the third quarter, Powder Valley ran off 11 unanswered points to break the game open. Ashley Dozhier got the ball rolling with a three-point basket. Then, Miller and Clark each scored a pair of baskets inside to boost Powder up 31-21.
Then, after another Potter basket broke the run, Miller and Clark closed out the period with another basket each for a 35-23 Powder Valley lead entering the fourth quarter.
andquot;We just had an answer for everything they had,andquot; Bingham said.
The Badger coach also gave credit to his team's hustle and defense.
andquot;These girls just played hard,andquot; he said. andquot;Defense is our trademark. I never have to wonder if they'll play hard. Or if they'll play good defense. They always do.andquot;
Miller led Powder Valley with 19 points and nine rebounds. Clark added 14 points and seven boards. Dozhier chipped in five steals.
Crane (27-3) was led by Heather Volle, Potter and Sarah Davies, all with seven points.
Crane 8 11 4 8 31
Powder Valley 11 9 15 7 42
Crane (31) Volle 3 1-1 7, Neumann 2 0-0 4, Potter 3 0-0 7, White 2 0-0 4, Davies 3 1-2 7, Otley, Neuschwander, Dellera, Berrett, Steeves, O'Crowley 1 0-0 2, Pelroy. Totals 14 2-3 31.
Powder Valley (42) Dozhier 3 0-0 7, Bingham 1 0-0 2, Kasper, Fuhrman, Kal. Miller 8 3-5 19, Kar. Miller, Clark 6 2-5 14, Miguez, Shroyer, Aldrich. Totals 18 5-10 42.
Three-point goals Potter, Dozhier. Fouled out Potter. Total fouls Crane 12, Powder Valley 7. Technicals none.