The Pendleton Lady Buckaroos looked like a shooting machine in the early going of Saturday’s finals game at the Red Lion Classic basketball tournament. They had 14 points before most in attendance had even found their seats.
But the fertile scoring fountain dried up shortly thereafter as Pendleton (2-2) finished the half with only eight more points and eventually dropped the contest to Clarkston (Wash.) 56-45.
Pendleton’s drop off in point production hurt double when the Bantams found their rhythm in the second half. The visiting team went on an 18-3 run in the third quarter as the Bucks were left scrambling.
“We have a few defensive plays and we just had some miscommunication,” said Brittany Gregerson, a senior point guard for the Bucks who scored 21 points in the game.
Pendleton left a major opportunity untapped by not exploiting their height advantage, coach Aaron Schmidt said. The team’s two tallest players — senior Courtney Schumacher-Sweek and sophomore Shelby Sanders — took a combined two shots in the second half.
The Bucks took too many long-range shots that were covered well by the Bantams instead of using ball movement to work inside — the tactic that made them successful in the first game of the Red Lion Classic against Pasco (Wash.) on Friday.
“(Clarkston) had a pretty small lineup in there for a lot of the second half and we’ve got to be able to recognize when we have mismatches inside,” Schmidt said. “As a team, we need to do a better job of working inside-out and not settling for jumpers first.
“We need to bet the ball to our bigs to open up our outside game because we do have some girls who can shoot the ball.”
Those skilled shooters tend to be Gregerson and fellow senior Gabby Heehn on most nights, but the pair got an extra workout on Saturday. The seniors did most of the scoring for the Bucks, netting 34 of 45 total points.
The Red Lion tournament-winning Clarkston (4-0) didn’t have a player taller than 5-foot-10 guard Jamie Weisner, but the senior played above any girl on the floor. She had 16 points and dominated the boards with 10 rebounds. Seven of those boards came on the offensive end.
Weisner was the standout in a game-long trend that gave the Bantams second-chance points. They brought down 19 boards in the offensive zone — three more than Pendleton had while on defense.
Despite the trouble on the boards, Schmidt said the team has improved there since opening the season a week ago.
“We were horrendous rebounding against Baker and La Grande,” the coach said of his team’s first two games. “(Saturday), I thought we blocked out fairly well. We’re getting position now and we just have to go finish and go get the basketball.”
In the consolation game at the Red Lion tournament, Sandpoint (Idaho) knocked off Pasco 27-16.