Haley Miersma (2) and Kinsale Wark (22) prepare for a state champion's bear hug after Western Christian's state title win
Haley Miersma (2) and Kinsale Wark (22) prepare for a state champion's bear hug after Western Christian's state title win

PENDLETON – Western Christian withstood a determined Bandon comeback and survived two Tiger three-point attempts to tie over the final 90 seconds to win the 2A title, 45-40, Saturday night at the 2024 OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union 2A Girls Basketball State Championships in Pendleton.

The top-seeded Pioneers (30-1) closed the year on a 26-game winning streak and captured their first title since 2015 mere hours after the long-dominant boys team won state for the second time over the past three years.

“This means a lot in so many ways,” said interim head coach Bryan Martin. “It shows the girls that they’re deserving. They put in the work, too.”

Freshman post Avery Herber scored 18 points and collected nine rebounds to lead the way for Western, which won despite a poor shooting night from star sophomore Runon Muroya. Muroya was held to nine points, on 2-of-18 shooting, after averaging almost 25 per game in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

“That shows the depth of our bench,” Herber said. “It’s been like that the whole year; I’m just glad we got to show it today.”

Though Western Christian will be hailed for its work in bringing the state title home to Salem, this game was as much about Bandon and its resilience in the face of extreme adversity. The Tigers trailed, 23-9, with just over three minutes left in the first half, after Western reserve Kinsale Wark took a Lexie Herber pass and swished home a three pointer.

It was part of a 12-1 run that might have effectively ended the game against any other team. After all, not only were the Tigers looking at a huge deficit, they also were down two players: senior shooting guard Olivia Thompson, Bandon’s main deep threat, went down late in the first quarter, and was lost for the game, with a left ankle injury that may be more than just a bad sprain. Fifteen seconds later, junior standout Makenna Vierck had to sit after picking up her third foul. Add that the Tigers were already without starting senior Lizzy Stice, who suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the season;  and things could not have been bleaker, even as the awesome band from Oakland, there to show support, played “We’re not going to take it” and the theme from Rocky.

Bandon closed the half on a 5-0 run, which included a wing three from Vierck, who had re-entered; and went to the locker room by just nine.

Martin was admittedly nervous. When the teams played early in the year at Bandon, Western, which starts two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman. had a double-digit lead late in the game and ended up losing by 13 to the senior-laden Tigers.

“We played great against them the first time but lost our composure and they stayed poised,” Martin recalled. “They taught us what it meant to be a team. To not quit.”

When the second half started, Western Christian tried to maintain its advantage and grind out the win. Bandon, in its first final in school history, knew that it had 16 minutes to flip the script.

“Leave everything you have on the floor,” coach Jordan Sammons told his charges.

Indeed, Bandon played the entire second half like it had nothing to lose. Western Christian played not to lose.

After Haley Ferry fed Avery Herber down low for an easy basket to open the second half for Western, Katelyn Senn responded immediately with a jumper for Bandon, part of a 10-2 run that made it a game again.

Vierck was a standout for Bandon, with seven points during the run; as was the Tiger zone defense, whose aim was to protect the foul-stricken Vierck but which also served to force Western Christian to try to score from long range. On any other night, that strategy would not have worked, because of Muroya’s precision shooting; but her struggles (0-12 from the floor in the second half, including 0-10 from three-point range) gave Bandon the opening it needed to remain a threat the rest of the game.

“Western Christian is a great team,” Sammons said. “It’s always hard when you go up a little bit and a team comes fighting back. We didn’t have anything to lose.”

Trying to rally from far behind takes energy, however, and when a team is down a key player against a tall, athletic and skilled team like Western, there are going to be lulls. So it was that the Pioneers faced the Bandon challenge head on by outscoring the Tigers, 5-1, over the next two minutes of the third, to build the lead back up from three points to a more comfortable seven.

Bandon, however, would not go away. The Tigers got a jolt when 5-3 senior guard Nyah Dimitruk hit a three-pointer late in the period under heavy pressure and trailed by just six going to the fourth.

Western Christian scored first to start the fourth quarter – the Pioneers scored first in every quarter this game – a nifty assist from her knees by Lexie Herber to her younger (but bigger) sister.

Senn came right back with a driving layup and completed the three-point play, and Bandon added four more points on a transition bucket from Vierck and Senn’s half-court steal and score. Just that fast, Bandon had gotten to within one point, down just 36-35. And more than six minutes still remained.

“When they came back roaring and cut it to one I was terrified,” Martin admitted.

“Bandon is the team that I have been comparing our team to all year. They are a complete unit. They play the perfect brand of team basketball. I knew even with them being down players that they would not go away. They wouldn’t give up without a fight.”

Martin called a 30-second time out to slow Bandon’s surge.

“My message to the girls was, ‘Play together,’” he said. “‘If we’re going to beat Bandon we have to be one.’”

Martin subbed junior Haley Miersma back into the game, which was a shrewd move because she nailed a jumper to give Western a little breathing room. Muroya then fed Avery Herber in the paint for a hoop and some harm. The freshman hit the “and 1,” expanding the lead to six with five minutes remaining.

Bandon came roaring back again, pulling to within three once more on a free throw and driving lay- up from Senn.

Avery Herber helped calm Western down by scoring on a stick back to make the lead five again.

“I just wanted to get the ball and put it back up,” she said. “If my teammates didn’t get it there, I wanted to.”

Vierck cut the margin to three again, with 2:15 remaining, by making two free throws after she was fouled while snagging a rebound.  

Western Christian had several looks from long range to score one more time and put the game away, but the iron was unkind to the Pioneers. The same could be said for Bandon, which had good looks at a tying three from both Senn and Vierck that looked promising in the air just rimmed out.

“We got two good looks but the ball didn’t bounce our way,” Sammons said. “That’s how it is sometimes.”

First Ferry, and then Avery Herber, rebounded those missed shots to prevent Bandon from any second-chance opportunities. Herber’s rebound came with five seconds left and was the clincher. A foul deliberatively given and two free throws with 0.01 remaining provided the final margin.

Senn finished with 16 and Vierck added 15 for Bandon, which had no other player score more than three, including the injured Thompson, who hit from long range early in the first quarter.

“We talked a lot before the game about playing as a family, playing for each other and playing together,” Senn said. “I think that family bond brought us together there to have a nice fight back. I’m happy with how our team competed.”

“This group is just resilient,” Sammons said. “My heart breaks for them because they battled. One thing about them is they never give up. All the things they’ve gone through will make them great people because they battle through adversity and they never give up. I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of a team than I am tonight because of the heart and fight they played with.”

Ferry complemented Avery Herber’s big night with 10 points and 11 rebounds for Western. Muroya had nine and five boards.

“Tonight, even with poor shooting, we scrapped, we clawed and we did what it took,” Martin said.

Western Christian, a team with eight new faces from last year and with a coaching change mid-season, is the state champion.

“We’re resilient,” Martin said. “We’ve been through a season most teams should never go through. We’re battle tested; we don’t give up on each other. We’re going to be good next year and the year after that. We put in the work and it shows.”

In the girls 3rd/5th game…

No. 4 Knappa 45, No. 3 Regis 38 – In a back and forth game characterized by eight lead changes in the second half, Mylie Lempea’s deep three with 4:03 remaining gave Knappa the lead for good in this intense, physical contest.

After Hadley Foster hit a three to put Regis on top, 36-35, Knappa outscored the Rams, 10-3, the rest of the way, starting with that Lempea long ball. It was still a one-score game, however, with less than a minute to play -- 40-38 Knappa -- when Alondra Pina hit a three pointer from the top of the key for the Loggers to finally put Regis away.

The game started slowly for both teams, but Regis led, 9-4, after one. For the third time in as many games in the state tournament, the Loggers battled back, courtesy of a long scoring run. The second quarter 14-0 surge looked like a back breaker when the Loggers went up 18-9 in the second quarter. Regis fought back gamely, aided by Adelle Otter’s scoring spree, and went ahead, 26-24, in the third on free throws from Foster. The teams traded the lead into the fourth quarter until Lempea’s trey, her third of the game, put Knappa on top for good.

Lempea scored 14 points for Knappa, but the Moda Health Player of the Game was rugged senior Ariana Miller, who did the dirty work down low to the tune of 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Knappa’s win avenged a 44-38 loss to Regis when the teams played early in December.

Foster had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the loss for Regis. Otter added nine points and 12 boards.

In the girls 4th/6th game…

No. 10 Oakridge 64, No. 11 Enterprise 53 – Senior Jade Snyder scored 36 points and hauled down 15 rebounds, and twin sister Sadie Snyder added 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists in what was a fast-paced, entertaining game between two skilled teams.

There were two inflection points that turned the game in Oakridge’s favor. The first came in the second quarter, when Sadie Snyder broke down an Enterprise defender, leaving her shoeless, for a layup that ignited a 10-0 run that gave the Warriors a lead after Enterprise largely controlled the first eight minutes.

The second came one minute into the fourth quarter, with Enterprise leading by two. Alejandro Arellano scored on a wing three – the first Oakridge player not named Snyder to score in the game – which gave the Warriors the lead back again. Jade Snyder, then Alexa Hawkins and finally Sadie Snyder all canned triples in succession thereafter to break the game open. Though Tessa Duncan rained in threes in the end game for Enterprise, the Outlaws never got closer than six points the rest of the way.

Duncan led Enterprise with 18 points and she added 14 rebounds, not bad for a 5-5 point guard. Alex Rowley, playing her last game, added 16 points, with seven rebounds.

With Duncan, Nevaeh James, Kimber Stein, Owyhee Harguess and Kendall Wigen back again next year, expect the Outlaws to return to the state tournament next year with designs on a top four finish.

Team Sportsmanship trophy – Enterprise

All-Tournament Second Team



Jade Snyder


Mazie Reeser, Stanfield

All-Tournament First Team



Sadie Snyder


Clara Persons, Regis