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Valiant girls come close, can't clinch state title

by: TIMES PHOTO: JOE CRAMER - Valley Catholic senior guard Lindsie LaBonte and the Valiant girls' basketball team made it to the state championship for the second time in two years, but couldn't beat Vale, who pulled away in the fourth.

COOS BAY — The Valley Catholic girls came up just short of repeating as Class 3A state champions on Saturday, falling to Vale 62-50 in the title game.

It was the second time in three years the teams met for the championship game at Marshfield High School, and the result was the same, a faster Vale club was able to run past the Valiants in the late going.

Valley Catholic matched Vale's intensity for most of three quarters. The game was tied seven times and there were eight lead changes.

But momentum switched in a flash late in the third quarter.

Bailey Gregory hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer for Vale. After Molly Danielson pulled Valley Catholic within one point with an inside basket, Madi Johnson hit a jumper to give Vale a 33-30 lead going to the fourth quarter. The Vikings scored the first six points of the final frame and the closest

Valley Catholic could get after that was seven points.

The loss ended a fabulous run for the Valiants, who won 18 straight games leading into the state tournament and then beat Creswell 70-51 and Nyssa 41-34 to reach the championship game.

Lindsie LaBonte had 27 points in the win over Creswell, nailing three 3-pointers and shooting 8-for-11 from the foul line. Danielson added 12 points and Bailey McDevitt had 10.

The next night, LaBonte had 12 points and Danielson had 11 points and 14 rebounds against Nyssa.

The title game was a contrast of styles.

Valley Catholic had a size advantage with Danielson and McDevitt, while Vale capitalized on speed with a much smaller lineup that featured 5-foot-3-inch twins Kimber and Kami Hawkins.

The Valiants kept up with the Vikings for most of the game, as Valley Catholic coach John Innes subbed in three or four players at a time.

Vale led by two after the first quarter and Valley Catholic was up by two at halftime.

But the game shifted with Vale1s run, which came just after LaBonte picked up her fourth foul and had to come out of the game. The bigger problem, Innes said, was a lack of execution.

“The kids played hard, but we got away from our game plan,” he said. “We wanted to get the ball inside. We forced a lot of shots in the second half. The kids want it so bad, sometimes it1s hard to stick to the game plan.”

The first three quarters, Valley Catholic did a better job getting the ball inside to Danielson, McDevitt and Kim Duyck.

But even then, they struggled some with Vale1s defense.

All the teams in the Lewis & Clark League play zone defense, and so did all of Valley Catholic1s other earlier opponents.

The game against Nyssa was the first time the Valiants faced a man-to-man defense, and it took a while for Valley Catholic to get going against it.

Then came Saturday night.

“Vale plays better man-to-man than Nyssa,” Innes said.

And when they got open shots, the Valiants struggled, shooting just 24.6 percent for the game.

“Our shots weren’t going in, that definitely hurt us,” LaBonte said.

LaBonte finished the championship game with 12 points and McDevitt had 10.

Both LaBonte and Danielson were named to the all-tournament first team. LaBonte was the leading scorer for the week, averaging 17 points for the three games. Danielson ranked third for rebounding, averaging 10.3 per game, while McDevitt ranked third in steals, averaging 3.3.




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