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Defending champion Valley Catholic going back to Coos Bay

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - The Valley Catholic girls basketball team will make its second straight appearance at the 3A state tournament after slaying Scio on Friday.

Coos Bay, here they come.

Leaving nothing to chance and controlling its own fate with customary suffocating defense and streamlined transition hoops, the Valley Catholic girls’ basketball team firmly punched its ticket back to the 3A state tournament by scalding Scio, 66-40, on Friday.

The defending state champions are officially heading back to Coos Bay and North Bend — their unofficial second homes — starting on Thursday against Creswell at 8:15 p.m.

“This is breathtaking,” said junior post Maddie Vinson. “I can’t even describe how amazing it feels to say we’re going back to Coos Bay and get to experience it all over again. We get to experience all the fun and the joy it brings.”

“I’m so proud of our team and how far we’ve come,” said junior post Bailey McDevitt. “We’ve done really well this season. It’s been our goal since the beginning of the season, but we’ve learned to take it one game at a time. We deserve this, and we’re all really excited.”

“It’s another chance to prove ourselves,” added senior post Kim Duyck. “We have our positives as a team, but we still have things to work on the next couple days. We’re just excited to be a part of something spectacular down there.”

For a few short-lived moments, the Loggers entertained visions of upsetting the No. 2 Valiants. Very few, as it turned out, and very fleeting.

Scio trailed just 16-11 early in the second quarter after Paige Graham drained two long-range bombs. However, the ever-ignitable Valiants erupted with a 13-0 run that was spurred by back-to-back threes by Lindsie LaBonte and Addie Flemmer. LaBonte scored 13 points in the first half and led the Valiants with 15 overall. Flemmer added 11 points, including two threes.

“Props to Addie and Lindsie for draining every three that they could,” said Duyck. “That definitely helped. Before the game we talked about playing as a team and playing to our strengths. We made it happen.”

“That made our work easier,” added Vinson. “We were able to get rebounds and put it back in really fast or get the ball outletted to the guards.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic junior wing Kaylynn Bush drives past the Scio defense on her way to the basket for two.

Lexi Beyer’s pull-up jumper and another transition three on the secondary break from LaBonte capped the spurt that gave Valley a 29-11 lead. Two free throws from McDevitt and a driving lay-in by Kaylynn Bush pushed the Valiants’ advantage to 33-13 at halftime.

“I liked how we were able to build all of our stress and anxiety that’s been building up for the last 14 hours and put that all into our play,” said Duyck. “We had our focuses, our goals, and we made them happen.”

McDevitt said Valley focused on staying calm offensively and moving its feet quickly on defense to stay with Scio’s all-league guards and shield them getting clean looks at the hoop. And, as has been the case all season for the Lewis and Clark league champs, the Valiants’ 2-2-1 fullcourt press and widened 2-3 zone slowly began to take their tolls on Scio as the game opened up. Valley held Scio to just two points over the final 6:35 of the second quarter

“(Scio) looked a little tired,” said McDevitt, who had 13 points. “We were tired too, but we pushed harder. We’re a pressing team and we knew they haven’t been pressed that much this season. We took that advantage and just kind of ran them down.”

“We were all passing the ball well and going after the ball no matter what the score was,” said Vinson. “We didn’t play the score, which was really good. We kept our momentum. We kept on our run. It was just amazing how we played.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior guard Addie Flemmer tries to fluster Scios point guard in the first quarter of the Valiants win over the Loggers on Friday.

Valley’s posts— who have been the team’s source of strength all year— were governing in the third. Molly Danielson scored seven points in the third, including a rugged three-point play in the paint. McDevitt’s full arsenal of post moves was working as well, as the junior banked home righty and lefty hooks. Vinson, Danielson, Duyck and McDevitt were ruthless on the glass, particularly the offensive boards where the Valiants’ size and strength simply couldn’t be stopped.

“As soon as the ball goes up I’m thinking ‘Where is it going to go? How can I get it? What can I do to put it back up and score for my team?’,” said Vinson. “I try to use my size to my advantage to get around them and get to the basket.”

“Rebounding has become one of our main attributes this year,” added McDevitt. “Last year we struggled with it, but this year it’s really improved.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior guard Lindsie LaBonte tries to fight through a Scio double team in the third quarter of the Valiants win on Friday.

The first round playoff win sets up a return trip to Coos Bay on Thursday for a state quarterfinal date with Creswell, a team that won the tough PacWest conference and is ranked seventh in 3A. Having experienced the high-pressure stakes, the distractions and potential pitfalls of the state tournament, Valley’s approaching the gala with a simple mentality.

“We’re just going to take it one game at a time,” said McDevitt. “I feel like a lot of teams try to look at it all at once, but we’re just focused on one opponent at a time. We’re going to what we can to prepare for each game and just have fun.”

Stage fright most likely won’t be an issue for the Valiants who relish playing in front of huge crowds against great teams in foreign environments. And, above all, Valley wants nothing more than to go back-to-back.

“When we walk into Marshfield’s gym, we’re just going to get that feeling again from last year,” said McDevitt. “It’s going to inspire us to play that much harder in this tournament. It’s going to bring us together and fuel us to our best, play together and have a really good tournament.”




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