By SCOTT SEPICH/for OSAAtoday
PENDLETON — The Stanfield Tigers just wanted to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish at the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 2A state tournament. But now they’re one win away from a first-ever girls basketball state championship.
Stanfield (27-1) shot out to an 11-point lead through one quarter, and the Tigers were never seriously threatened in a 38-28 victory over Central Linn in the semifinals.
The third-seeded Tigers will face No. 4 Gervais in the championship game at 5:45 p.m. Saturday at the Pendleton Convention Center.
Maggie Sharp scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Tigers, who hadn’t even won a league championship since 1987 before this year’s run. Adrienne Mallory had eight points and four steals, while Zuri Reeser posted seven points and six rebounds.
“This is a win-win situation for us,” Maggie Sharp said. “We’ve improved from where we were last year which is what we wanted, so we’re super excited. We feel comfortable now, it’s all fun and there’s no stress anymore.”
Stanfield led 22-9 at halftime and scored the first four points of the second half to push the lead to 17. Central Linn (27-2) responded with a 7-0 run but couldn’t make more of a dent in the final minutes.
“The first quarter was kind of what we’ve done most of the year,” said Tigers coach Daniel Sharp. “That good hot start helped.”
Maggie Sharp said the Tigers wanted to “hit Central Linn early” and make the Cobras play from behind.
“Coming out strong and hitting those shots gave us that gap we were able to keep for the rest of the game,” she added.
The Tigers did a solid job defensively on the Cobras’ duo of twins Maya and Gemma Rowland, who combined for 21 points but shot just 7-for-26.
“I thought Zuri was incredible on (Maya Rowland) all night, and the way she maneuvers into spots we knew that was a big deal,” Daniel Sharp said.
Daniel Sharp, who’s in his ninth season as the girls coach following eight years at the helm of the boys program, said it’s been “almost a dream come true” just seeing his team competing in Pendleton.
“I’ve been doing this for quite a while, and it’s hard to imagine that we’re playing in a state championship game,” he said.
Central Linn will attempt to capture its second consecutive third-place trophy on Saturday. Cobras coach Wendi Farris admitted that it stings to lose but they’re looking forward to facing league rival Monroe in the third-place game.
“The more you give the harder it is to lose, but you have to get to that point where it hurts because it matters,” said Farris. “We lost four of our top six from last year and if you would’ve asked me if we’d be here again I would’ve laughed.”
Farris mentioned a sign she saw in the Pendleton High School locker room that read “the more you give, the harder it is to surrender.”
“That was the epitome of our seniors,” Farris said. “We put all our cards on the table and Stanfield had a little bit better hand than us. We were fighting until the last minute.”
No. 4 Gervais 46, No. 9 Monroe 17: The Gervais Cougars are headed back to the state championship game for the first time since their only title in 1994, overwhelming Monroe 46-17 in the semifinals.
“The last couple of years we’ve been knocked out in the first round, so to be in the championship is so exciting,” said junior Olivia Boyd. “The whole town is so excited and we know everyone is waiting for us to come back hopefully with the trophy.”
Gervais (25-4) went on a 20-0 run starting in the middle of the second quarter that stretched a 14-9 lead to 34-9 with less than three minutes to go in the third.
Boyd, a 5-foot-11 junior, dominated the interior for Gervais after Western Christian forced the Cougars to play more of a perimeter game in the quarterfinals. She finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. She outscored Monroe 14-9 by herself in the first half.
“Today we were able to get the ball inside and move and dish more than we did yesterday,” said Boyd. “We got a lot of transition layups because we were passing the ball up the court off deflections and rebounds.
Boyd’s sister, Izzy Boyd, scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. Josie Schultz had eight points and three steals.
Monroe (20-10) couldn’t recapture the momentum it had in an upset victory over Salem Academy in the quarterfinals. Matilyn Richardson and Sarah Thompson each scored six points for the Dragons. Lainie Bateman, who scored 19 points in the quarterfinal, was held to one point Friday.
Monroe missed 14 shots in a row in the second and third quarters until Thompson finally broke the drought with a jump shot. The Dragons shot 15% (8-for-54) from the field.