By Jeremy McDonald
PENDLETON, Ore.– It wasn’t the way they would hope to end their 23-6 season, but it was a vast improvement from Thursday’s defeat to Bandon when Gervais played Stanfield Friday morning at Pendleton High School.
But damn, they looked like the Cougars the 2A Classification grew to know and admire when they lace it up against the Kyle Buse-led squad. Physical and made sure you’ll know that they will be a tough out as they built a 36-29 lead on the Eastern Oregon Tigers with under two to go in the third quarter.
“I thought we bounced back really well, there were two minute stretches that killed us in the important pieces of the game,” Buse said.
Over the course of the final two minutes of the third, Stanfield chipped away at the deficit and entered the fourth quarter down 36-34 to the Cougars. Gervais reset entering the final eight minutes, but momentum was sadly in favor of Stanfield. Using their 5-0 run in their favor, taking a 45-42 lead with 2:39 with Gervais making every shot that they did take difficult with their traditionally tough defense.
But the Tigers made it just as difficult on the Cougs offense, making sure they kept Gervais at bay coming down the stretch as Stanfield advanced to the fourth-sixth place game Saturday morning at the Pendleton Convention Center.
What’s noteworthy, the Cougars lose two seniors from this squad in Salma Villegas and Mayra Perez. Key seniors yes, but they bring back a team that has playoff experience with the last two years and with Pendleton this year especially.
“We needed the experience. This group needed the high-level of pressure. Kind of what we saw two years ago and take the next step. We’ll be a little bit thinner next year and we’ll expect the younger kids to step up for that depth,” Buse starts. “But yeah we needed that experience. We won’t be able to replace those two seniors, but trying to fill their role will be our challenge.”
Villegas had five rebounds and three assists in the defeat while Perez suffered an injury in the game against Bandon Thursday where she had four points and three steals. Josie Schultz, Sofia Contreras and Izzy Boyd were a part of the two Pendleton teams and will be returning in the Winter as they’ll look to make another trip out to Pendleton. Hoping to get that elusive Pendleton win that’s avoided them so far in four games.
“It definitely opened our eyes for sure. We definitely have that hunger to come back next year. We’re definitely going to miss Mayra and Salma, but we’re definitely going to start prepping for next year,” Contreras said.
Contreras finished with two points in 26 minutes while Olivia Boyd led the way with an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double with three blocks. Sister Izzy had 11 points with six rebounds.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald