PILOT ROCK — Against Stanfield on Saturday night, Pilot Rock’s Jordan Jeppe acted like she out-measured every Tiger player by four feet instead of the actual four inches she held on them. Jeppe scored 14 points on offense and made the inside of the key her domain by grabbing 25 rebounds and guiding Pilot Rock to a 36-34 victory.
Pilot Rock (3-3, 1-1 BMC) picked up its first win in Blue Mountain Conference league play despite a poor shooting performance. A lot of missed shots gave Jeppe and others opportunities for rebounds on the offensive end. Jeppe accounted for 11 of the team’s 20 offensive boards.
“Our shots were not falling; I don’t know what it was,” Jeppe said. “We knew we had to block out ... and we came back in the second half. That’s all that’s important, that we don’t quit.”
The way the Rockets controlled the glass on both ends of the court, they could have put the game out of reach by putting the ball in the basket more regularly. They shot 20 percent in the first half while scoring a meager 10 points.
But when the game was on the line, the Rockets started to nail the shots they needed most desperately. Sophomore guard Caitlin Zyph had a look at six free throws in the last minute of the contest. She missed the first two but Jeppe grabbed the rebound and dished it back out to Zyph, who was quickly fouled.
The 5-foot-5 Zyph headed back to the line with her team guarding a 33-31 lead and staring at an opportunity to finally lock out the Tigers.
“I just needed to clear my mind and not think about what was going on and just shoot the best I could,” Zyph said, who finished with nine points. “It felt like I had to make those.”
She sunk three of her final four charity shots to put the Rockets up 36-31, and it was a good thing, too. With the game out of reach, Stanfield’s Nidia Ibarra hucked a long toss at the basket as the clock ran out and made the shot to bring the score to the final 36-34. Without Zyph’s one-point baskets, the game could have ended with a different team on top.
The Tigers (2-4, 0-2 BMC) had built a strong lead and held on to it through most of the game before the scoreboard flipped on them in the final frame. The last few minutes of games have been the most tricky for the team this season, said Stanfield head coach Candice Valentine. A good chunk of the Tigers roster is made up of sophomores and maintaining focus can be tough.
“When it comes down to crunch time, it’s tough for us,” Valentine said. “But it’ll come with experience. We need to tighten up.”
The best game by a player not named Jeppe came from Stanfield’s Kaci Kamm, who had 13 points, but fouled out with under two minutes left in the game.