The Outlaws girls ended a successful basketball season with a semi-finals appearance for fifth place at the state 2A OSAA basketball championships. The ladies started out gunning down their first two opponents, Portland Christian and Vernonia with impressive victories before Heppner stopped the Outlaws dead in their tracks.
The Vernonia contest featured the girls cruising to a 37-31 victory on Feb. 28. Veronia had just beaten Monroe, the second-ranked state team, so the girls had their work cut out for them. The Outlaws shot 33 percent from the floor, led by Lexie Gassett’s 11-point performance, as she went 2 for 3 from the floor and 7 for 9 from the free throw line while snatching six rebounds. Coaches later selected Gassett to second-team honors for the tournament.
The first quarter ended with both teams tied at 11 then the Outlaws severely outscored their opponents in the next two quarters. Vernonia outscored the ladies 16-9 in the fourth quarter, but it was in vain as the Outlaws prevailed for the win.
“That win was the secret to getting into the semis (finals) and place where we did,” Coach Mike Crawford said. “We were up by 13 points at the end of the third quarter, and they made a run at us before we got ourselves together and stretched the lead out again. To win the game was the culmination of the season and put us in the top five. We played really well.”
Karli Bedard served up 10 points while harvesting four rebounds. Ashlyn Gray hauled in eight boards while scoring seven points. Carsyn Miller contributed five steals for the defense.
March 1 played a different tune for the Outlaws as they fell to Heppner, the eventual state champions, 39-32. Bedard and Gassett switched places as Bedard was leading scorer with 11 while Gassett tossed in 10. Both snagged seven boards, but the two ladies couldn’t do it alone as the next highest scorer managed only three points. Shooting percentage was at 25 percent and 28 turnovers were committed. No one sank a three-pointer.
“We were in that game until the end, it was a one-point game at the end of three,” Crawford said. “We had a four-point fourth quarter, so we lost by seven. We win that game, and we’re playing for the state title.”
The Outlaws’ final game proved a downer as Kennedy shot them out of the saddle, 49-31, in a match that determined third or fifth place in the state championships. The Outlaws six guns failed to find the target as the team shot just over 25 percent from the floor and 52 percent for free throws. Kennedy had the same floor shooting percentage but they fired more shots and shot 72 percent on free throws.
“Kennedy came out with something to prove,” Crawford said. “They were ranked number one and lost to Coquille the night before. They could have been the state champions. They got aggressive and physical. and we turned the ball over a lot. You can’t do that against a really good team and expect to win.”
Senior Shelby Moncrief led the squad in shooting with 10 points while shooting a very respectable 50 percent from the field and Ashlyn Gray tossed in seven. Karli Bedard was tops on rebounds with five. The team also won the sportsmanship award for their good behavior.
“I’m not disappointed one bit with my team,” Crawford said. “They played hard in every game and I’m really proud of them. I thought they did a great job.”