PENDLETON — The first quarter belonged to Quincy George. For all the rest of the game, Joel Boozer was king.
The Pendleton duo combined for 39 points as the Buckaroos took a quick lead against the La Grande Tigers and built on it just as swiftly in a 85-65 victory — a game that was not nearly as close as that score would suggest.
Pendleton (5-6) led 78-43 when it emptied the bench and sent all its varsity talent to the sidelines. La Grande (2-9) won the battle with the junior varsity Buckaroos 22-7 but still suffered the 20-point loss overall. The Tigers had hung with the Bucks in a season-opening loss on Nov. 29, a 68-64 final.
Having lost three straight at the Wilsonville Invitational Tournament over the weekend, the Bucks craved a speedy turnaround upon returning home, George said.
George scored 16 of his 19 in the first quarter on 6-of-8 shooting, which also included a hurried NBA-length 3-point miss at the buzzer.
But the Bucks showed their diversity soon thereafter behind Boozer.
“It’s really about who our personnel is on the floor, but also when Quincy or any of our guards are shooting the way that he was, their defense starts to pull up and overplay and that opens up the middle for our big guys to go to work on the inside,” said Pendleton coach David Norton.
Which Boozer did — with authority. The 6-foot-5 post crashed the paint for a team-high 20 points and 14 rebounds. A trifecta of second-half blocks directly in front of the student section sparked a bevy of noise as Pendleton pulled ahead to its highest point, the 35-point lead prior to the starters’ exit.
“I would just go hard and either they’d foul me or I’d get the bucket,” said Boozer, who also took 11 of his team’s 32 foul shots.
The Bucks held the steep advantage on the boards throughout the contest, holding a 2:1 edge for almost the entire game. A late stretch of better boarding by La Grande narrowed the rebounding deficit — in much the same respects as the score — but Pendleton still finished with a 52-32 advantage.
Behind Boozer and George, who also grabbed seven rebounds and picked off four steals, Jake Sierra and Donte Robinson turned in two more double-digit scoring shows. Sierra put up 13 points, to go with five boards, and Robinson had 11 points, six rebounds and three assists.
La Grande’s Brandon Dall wound up with a game-high 24 points, but a good portion came against the second stringers late. Dall hit a fading jumper from near the free throw line as time expired in the fourth quarter for his final points.
The Bucks are closing in on Columbia River Conference time and have just two games left before the league opener on Jan. 15 at home against Hood River Valley. Pendleton starts with a game against Baker next Tuesday, played at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 966-0839.