By Jeremy McDonald
WILLAMINA, Ore.– It was crazy that by games end that it was 31-26 Willamina in a game in which 14 minutes earlier Yamhill-Carlton led the Bulldogs 17-9.
That was the 5:49 mark of the third quarter and the Tigers Aliya Seibel had left her mark in the game scoring nine of her 18 points in the opening quarter to separate Yamhill-Carlton from Willamina.
“For us, at the beginning of the game it wasn’t looking all so good for us,” said Kallie Schoenbachler, who scored the first two points of the game and nabbed two early rebounds in the game. “But we took the time and we realize that we had to step up our game if we want to win. So that’s what we did. We came out, worked our hardest and came out with the win.”
The biggest lead that the Tigers had was at 11, 17-6, late in the first half before the Bulldogs got it to 17-9 by the halftime break.
Shots weren’t falling for either team until late in the quarter. Fouls were climbing against Willamina during the second half to match YC’s physicality and intensity for them to play smarter with the physical team in front of them.
Kena Rankin’s three-pointer at the end of the third quarter brought the Bulldogs to within five, 22-17, entering the final eight minutes of the game.
“It was so hard…we forced a lot of our shots,” said Kira Rankin. “I feel like when our shots don’t go in, so we just had to go run our offense until we got easier shots in, and then they started fouling and fouling that made it easier for us to make our free throws.”
It would ultimately come down to the older Rankin’s free throws to ice the game. But before her late game heroics the team effort to start the quarter on a 5-0 run capped by a Gracelyn France lay-in for the 23-22 lead.
Moments later, on a four-point swing, Seibel hit on a three-ball that gave Yamhill-Carlton a 26-24 lead.
That would be the Tigers last basket of the game as YC struggled to hit at the line to keep pace with a Willamina team charging. Piper Shrabel scored the next four-points, a deep two and a lay-in that swung the lead back to the Bulldogs.
Seibel and Halle Harris couldn’t connect at the line with 1:24 left in the game. Kira Rankin splits her first pair of free throws with 38.7 left before lining up at the line with 7.8 seconds left with Willamina up 29-26.
“We practice those in practice and it finally paid off,” smiled Rankin of the pressure free-throws. “We made the majority of our free throws and that’s where it counted.”
Rankin made her final two free-throws to ice the 31-26 win, the Bulldogs (3-1) third win this season as they travel to Nestucca Friday night. The Tigers (0-3) are at Gervais Wednesday evening.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald