PENDLETON — Games for the Stanfield girls’ basketball team haven’t come as full units this year. Sometimes the Tigers play two or three strong quarters, but get buried by underperformances in the others.
So Tuesday, against Pilot Rock at Pendleton’s Sunridge Middle School, Stanfield coach Kyle Cowan wanted to try a different tactic.
“A lot of times we’ve been able to play well for three quarters, so we were trying to make it a three quarter basketball game,” he said.
The Tigers played keep away as best they could in the first quarter, though the Rockets would pick up a few turnovers to get some points. But Pilot Rock was able to outlast the strategy and cruise to a 34-23 Blue Mountain Conference victory.
The first three possessions ended in a steal and consecutive traveling and a carry calls as the Rockets netted a few points against the stalling tactics of Stanfield. By the end of the quarter, the Tigers had two attempted shots and were still trailing 6-1.
The Rockets held the lead, but they weren’t happy about the way it was coming.
“It was really frustrating because I’d never had that happen before,” said Pilot Rock’s Bailey Weinke. “They just kept passing and passing and I don’t think that’s the right way to play this game.
“I like fast-paced, going and going,” she added.
The Tigers knew that, too. The Rockets came into Tuesday’s action averaging more than 53 points per game. Both teams would finish with season lows in total points.
The Tigers abandoned the hold-out tactic — for the most part — after the first quarter. Weinke would finish with 11 points for the Rockets, one behind game-leader and teammate Caitlin Zyph. But with only 36 shots in the contest, the Rockets needed to be choosey when they finally got the opportunity to put up a ball.
And when Stanfield lifted up a shot, the Rockets relied on their rebounding to keep the cycle from starting again. Britteny Taylor finished with nine rebounds and Ginni Harrison and Maddison Dave each grabbed seven.
“It’s an unexpected surprise having our freshman ready to play at this level,” Pilot Rock coach Butch Wilson said of Dave. “We expected not to see her much until next year, but that allows me to play big.”
The Rockets won the rebounding battle 31-23.
Pilot Rock never trailed in the game, but Stanfield came close to a lead a few times in the second half. The Tigers drew to within four points near the start of the fourth quarter, but as Pilot Rock began to pull away, Stanfield couldn’t keep up. The Tigers were stuck in the same tempo in which they’d started the game — though this time not on purpose.
“It’s really hard to have a slow-paced game and then try and come back and go full-bore at it,” said Stanfield’s Brittany Gregerson, who led her team with eight points.
The Tigers are still looking for BMC win No. 1 and will host Weston-McEwen on Friday in their next action.
The Rockets are chasing the top two teams in the conference, Heppner and Enterprise. They’ll get Irrigon at home on Saturday with a chance to keep their momentum going, having won three in a row now, and six of seven.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or (541) 966-0839.