PENDLETON — It was not how Kevin Porter envisioned the season ending.
After his Pendleton Buckaroos won the Columbia River Conference and secured a home playoff game, the second-year coach pictured his team walking off the court at Oregon State University’s Gill Coliseum with a state placer trophy in hand. Instead, Pendleton’s season came to an end at its own Warberg Court on Friday night in the Class 5A first round with a heart-breaking 54-53 loss to Crescent Valley.
The Buckaroos (17-8) had a chance to tie the game was the clock ran down, trailing 54-51. Jaiden Lemberger, Pendleton’s best outside shooting threat, dribbled the ball up the court but passed it to her left to Hallie Porter, but Porter, too, passed on a shot and instead tossed it inside to Kalan McGlothan for an easy layup to make it 54-53. However, as Crescent Valley inbounded the ball, the buzzer sounded before Pendleton could foul or try for a steal to seal the win for the Raiders (22-4).
The loss also brought about the end to the prep basketball careers of Pendleton’s five-girl senior class of Maureen Davies, Rylee Gentner, Jaiden Lemberger, Kalan McGlothan and Hallie Porter. The group has certainly left its mark on the Pendleton basketball program — with a combined 55 wins, two league championships and three playoff appearances — and it left an emphatic mark as well on Friday’s game.
McGlothan, Pendleton’s workhorse in the post all season long, put together yet another double-double with 24 points and 17 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. Lemberger nailed a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 13 points, while Davies put up seven points and eight rebounds, Porter had three and Gentner had three.
“Obviously they’ve been the backbone of this team,” an visibly emotional Porter said afterward.
However, amidst the big offensive numbers part of what ultimately did Pendleton in was its carelessness with the basketball. The Buckaroos turned the ball over 30 times — 15 times in each half — including five in the last three minutes of the game. Too many times the Buckaroos tried to break Crescent Valley’s press with long, down-court passes that a Raider defender stepped in front of, or looked for a cross-court pass that was tipped or picked off, too.
“The game is predicated on possessions and quality possessions and we had a lot of quality possessions,” Porter said, “but we gave them (Crescent Valley) a lot more quality possessions than they deserved tonight. You turn it over, every coach in America will tell you that you lessen your opportunity to win.”
Pendleton began the game playing well, leading for all but three seconds of the first quarter until Crescent Valley’s Ana McClave’s floater at the buzzer put the Raiders in front 15-14 after one. After the teams tied at 28-28 at halftime, Crescent Valley’s Cali McClave knocked in a pair of 3-pointers to spark an 8-0 run for the Raiders for a 36-28 lead.
The Buckaroos battled back and tied the game at 38-38 and then eventually grabbed a 44-40 lead on lay-ins from McGlothan and Davies with 3:00 left in the third. Then it was the Raiders turn again for a scoring spurt, taking a 47-44 lead at the end of the third quarter.
And again, the Buckaroos came back and tied the game at 51-51 with 3:15 left after Lemberger drained a 3-pointer from the right wing. But then the turnovers haunted the Buckaroos on five possessions down the stretch to allow Crescent Valley to steal the win.
Cali McClave led the Raiders with a game-high 26 points as she was nearly unstoppable all night. She routinely was able to dribble past Buckaroo on-ball defenders for easy layups and knocked down jump shots when open. And overall, Crescent Valley worked through Pendleton’s defenses with constant backdoor cuts and slip screens which the Buckaroos just couldn’t find a way to stop.
“We knew what they (Crescent Valley) was going to do and we didn’t do a very good job at stopping it,” Porter said.
And because of that, the Raiders are the ones that will be making the trip to Gill Coliseum next week while the Buckaroo players will turn their attention to spring sports.
CV 15 13 19 7 — 54
PHS 14 14 16 9 — 53
CRESCENT VALLEY — C. McClave 26, A. McClave 12, P. Dale 10, G. Gray 2, V. Taylor 2, N. Moore 2.
PENDLETON — K. McGlothan 24, J. Lemberger 13, M. Davies 7, H. Porter 3, R. Gentner 3, S. Spriet 2, J. Wilson 1, K. Bradt.
3-pointers — CV 3, PHS 3. Free throws — CV 5-12, PHS 12-18. Fouls — CV 14, PHS 17.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.