PENDLETON — For the fourth season in a row, the Pilot Rock girls are Blue Mountain Conference champions. And for the third consecutive time, the title comes at the expense of the Enterprise Outlaws.
Pilot Rock upset the BMC District Tournament’s No. 1 seed Enterprise on Saturday at the Pendleton Convention Center to complete its four-peat with a 48-39 victory.
“I planned on being in this game, finishing third or better (in league),” Wilson said, with a berth to the state tournament taking first priority. “This championship is the icing on the cake really.”
Pilot Rock, the No. 3 seed at this year’s tournament, beat Enterprise in the title game 38-31 two years ago and 42-38 last season.
The Rockets got a head start toward their 2013 edition of a league championship on the back of freshman post Madison Dave, a player that was years away from wearing a Rockets uniform when the district streak began. Dave played the hottest eight-minute stretch of her season to open Saturday’s contest. She scored 12 points in the opening quarter, getting easy access to the hoop like she was a paying member.
The Rocket got plenty of second-chance opportunities to score with her rebounding as well. She grabbed eight off the offensive glass for the game, part of a 13-rebound outing.
“At the beginning of the game, the scenario was all about they were playing back-side rebound,” Enterprise coach Mike Crawford said. “Shooting, just launching so to speak, knowing it was going to (rebound to her). And even intentionally for some of those — easy catch and put back.”
With Dave dominating, the Rockets moved out to a 17-9 lead after a quarter. She’d add another bucket in the second half as Pilot Rock kept the heat on Enterprise (20-4).
The Rockets out-rebound Enterprise 41-29 for the game.
Saturday’s competition marked the latest chapter in Dave’s development. She started the season a more timid version of herself, but with a full year of varsity now in the books, she’s become the kind of post presence for Pilot Rock to rely on confidently.
“This year I’ve learned a lot more than I’ve ever learned from 3rd through 8th grade,” Dave said. “The key is just learning to take people one-on-one and not being scared to shoot. During the beginning of the season I was scared but now I can take people by myself.”
But Enterprise locked in on Pilot Rock’s strategy after halftime. The Outlaws stopped allowing the Rockets to shoot uncontested from outside and walled off the inside game. The moves coincided with Enterprise’s lunge back to within striking distance.
Haley Riggs, who led Enterprise with 11 points, tied the game at 31-31 with a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter after the Rockets had led by as many as seven in the second half. Caitlin Zyph answered with a 3 of her own on the next possession, a major boost after the point guard started the game 1-of-13 shooting.
Zyph’s basket was the start of a 13-3 run for Pilot Rock that left the score at 44-34 with 55 seconds left. Dave went 2-of-2 from the free throw line to cap the run, her only points in the second half to leave her at a game-high 16.
Enterprise made one last charge, scoring five points in the next 15 seconds, but Pilot Rock iced the game on Zyph free throws. She went 4-for-4 in the final 20 seconds to finish with 10 points.
The Rockets’ defense held Marta Stangel, co-player of the year in the BMC, to just nine points. Stangel scored only two points in the fourth quarter, a crucial factor in the Rockets’ ability to hold onto the lead.
The Rockets will host a game in the first-round of the Class 2A state playoffs next Saturday because of the win. Pilot Rock won its final six games of the season to reach this point.
Enterprise is also onto the state bracket as the Blue Mountain’s No. 2
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.