The Pasco cheerleaders chanted; they demanded that their team be aggressive.
But it was the Lady Bucks who were listening.
The Bucks went to the locker room after their 43-28 victory over Pasco on Friday in the Red Lion Classic with plenty of skinned knees and elbows. The girls spent most of the the tournament’s opening night on the floor diving at any loose basketball within reach, leading to 26 take aways.
“We want to try our hardest and by going and diving for the ball, it means you’re really trying and making an effort,” said Buckaroo junior Gabby Heehn, a ball thief on five occasions. “That’s it: effort.”
Through three quarters, Pendleton (2-1) had built a 30-point lead, 41-11. The frantic defense that helped carry them to that height relaxed in the fourth quarter, though, and Pasco (0-4) nearly tripled its score by the final whistle.
Though the victory was never in danger — Pasco never got closer than the 15 points they eventually lost by — Schmidt said he wasn’t thrilled by how the game ended. The girls had focused on selling-out defensively in the past week at practices , he said, and they did that very well. For three quarters.
“We had a little let down in the fourth quarter that I was a little disappointed by,” Pendleton head coach Aaron Schmidt said. “When you’re up by 30 points or however many it was, at that point I think the girls got a little complacent.”
The Bucks used quick passes — and many of them — to open up shots for Heehn, who led the team with 16 points. Pasco players were constantly trying to keep up with the hot-passing Pendleton team that frequently broke a player free of coverage.
Sophomore post player Shelby Sanders benefited from the zipping passes in the third quarter where she scored eight of her 13 points. The passes would float in over the heads of shorter defenders from guards Brittany Gregerson and Rayne Spencer and the rest was simple basket work.
“I think we passed the ball a lot quicker (than previous games) and we knew what to look for,” said Sanders, who stands at 6 feet 1 inch.
Pendleton played its way into the finals of the Red Lion tournament with the victory and set a date with Clarkston (Wash.). The Bantams (3-0) beat Sandpoint (Idaho) earlier on Friday 55-43.
Tip off of championship game is this afternoon at 3:15 p.m.