PENDLETON — For the first 21 minutes of play Tuesday evening, Pendleton’s first game of 2018 looked like a regrettable performance for the Buckaroos.
The Buckaroo girls did not have the look of a team that was riding a five-game win streak, instead they looked like the young team that was lost early in the season, and trailed Dallas 31-21 with 5:25 left in the third quarter.
“Sadly, that might’ve been one of the poorest games we’ve played all year,” Pendleton coach Kevin Porter said. “We weren’t patient on offense, we forced the ball when we didn’t need to ... we just didn’t have the effort I thought we should’ve had to start tonight.”
However, for the final 13-plus minutes of the game, the Buckaroos played like a team on fire. Pendleton chipped away at Dallas’ lead as the third quarter ticked away, and continued to gain momentum in the fourth quarter while the Dragons stumbled. Over that final 13-plus minute stretch, Pendleton outscored the Dragons 28-11 to steal a 49-42 win for its sixth consecutive victory.
“I don’t know what switch they flipped, but I’m glad they flipped it,” Porter said.
Kalan McGlothan powered Pendleton’s comeback with another monster game and yet another double-double. She finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds, with 17 points coming in the second half. Jaiden Lemberger was the only other Buckaroo in double figures with 13 points. Porter says that the way McGlothan performs and the productions she gives game after game is surprising, but not surprising at the same time.
“She loves basketball and she puts the effort in,” Porter said. “She’s never going to get outworked. She’s 5-foot-8 and plays like she’s 6-foot-8. I tell the kids every day to play at a level you’re opponent is not willing to play at, and I don’t have to tell her that, she just does it.”
Pendleton (7-5) controlled most of the first quarter, getting the ball inside to the posts and drawing fouls to earn the majority of its 12 first-quarter points from the free throw line. But after a slow start, Dallas (6-3) roared back to take a 13-12 lead at the quarter break, and then held the lead for the entire second quarter for a 24-19 advantage at halftime.
The Dragons slowly built up their advantage to its largest lead of 11 points with four minutes left in the third, seemingly on the brink of putting the Buckaroos away. But Pendleton’s defense, led by bench players such as Sami Spriet, Uliyanna Guerrero and Carissa Cooley, helped get some defensive stops and gave the Bucks some chances to get back in the game.
“Our reserves are the ones that cut into the lead and got us momentum,” Porter said. “If it’s not for those reserves, I doubt we could’ve got it done.”
Down 34-28 to start the fourth, Pendleton quickly tied the game at 37-37 with 5:24 left following a free throw by Maureen Davies. Then with three minutes left, Rylee Gentner gave Pendleton its first lead since the first quarter with an offensive rebound and putback off a missed shot by Davies for a 43-41 Buckaroo advantage.
From there, Pendleton’s defense held on at the end, holding the Dragons to just seven shot attempts for the entire fourth quarter to help seal the victory.
Pendleton shot a mediocre 31 percent for the game, but it was excellent in the fourth quarter as the team made 8-of-13 shots (61 percent) and had just two turnovers.
“We certainly executed better and our spacing was better which gave us better opportunities at the basket,” Porter said of the fourth quarter.
Pendleton is now in the backstretch of its non-league schedule with road games against La Grande and Baker before league play starts on Jan. 18. And riding a win streak while building up depth and gaining experience for the younger players on the bench has the Bucks feeling confident in where they stand.
DHS 13 11 10 8 — 42
PHS 12 7 9 21 — 49
DALLAS — J. Dippel 13, E. Classen 9, M. Laizure 9, H. Mounce 5, K. Simmons 3, K. Cooley 2, J. Furman 1.
PENDLETON — K. McGlothan 25, J. Lemberger 13, M. Davies 6, R. Gentner 3, H. Kiele 2, H. Porter, U. Guerrero, C. Cooley, S. Spriet, K. Bradt.
3-pointers — DHS 3, PHS 1. Free throws — DHS 11-15, PHS 14-25. Fouls — DHS 20, PHS 14.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.