By Jeremy McDonald
LA GRANDE, Ore.– La Grande found a way to get by a pesky Cascade squad for their first trip to Forest Grove since the 2015-2016 Friday night 52-46.
The Cougars were undersized, yet aggressive. Challenging the Tigers to defeat them in different ways. Fast-paced in the first, the Cougars leading 10-3 before La Grande rallying for a 17-16 lead by quarters end with both teams hitting seemingly everything that went up towards the end.
The Tigers switched it up and went post-play, challenging Senior Abbigal Cordero and Sophomore Abby Jeppsen with Ella Dunlap. Dunlap scored ten of her 25 points in the second quarter, but La Grande only led 28-27 at the halftime break over Cascade.
“I just had to keep my head in the game and not worry about all the physical stuff. Just worried about what I’m suppose to do and how I’m suppose to do against it,” said Dunlap.
Cascade, who only had two Senior as the lone upperclassmen on the team this season on Varsity, didn’t have any bus lag on the five-hour bus ride to Eastern Oregon. But struggled to find their shot in the third quarter and an answer for Dunlap during the third stanza in the game.
Dunlap added eight more points in the third and La Grande slowly built a 40-39 lead entering the fourth quarter.
As frustrated as it was, Cascade dug deep in the fourth and used a 7-0 run to pull to 43-36 with 5:10 left in the game. Showing that, despite carrying nine sophomores and giving up some size, that they wouldn’t go home quietly.
“I thought it was awesome, I thought (the underclassmen) did great. In the locker room we were like, ‘it’s do or die. Either we do it now or we’re going to be done’. So we kept going for it. Unfortunately we didn’t pull it out,” said the Cougars Camryn Boyles. “It sucks, but I’m excited to come back and watch them play.
Boyles and Cordero each scored 13 points for Cascade.
The Tigers kept challenging the Cougars to keep their pace up, eventually staying ahead just enough to advance to their first Elite 8 since 2016.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald