PENDLETON - The Pendleton Bucks girls basketball team will be looking to capture a share of the Intermountain Conference title tonight when they travel to Mountain View.
With Redmond's 61-49 victory at Bend Thursday, the best the Bucks can do is finish in a first-place tie with the Panthers and hope for the best in a coin-flip to determine the IMC's automatic entry into the state tournament.
"We're awfully excited about the possibility of clinching a co-championship on Friday night, and whatever happens in the coin-flip happens," Bucks coach Todd Zimmermann said. "Mountain View's playing really good basketball right now as evidenced by their victory over Hermiston, so we've got to be ready."
The Cougars are certainly no pushovers. They have an 8-4 conference record. Former Bucks assistant coach Adam Reese has Mountain View playing its best basketball of the season.
The game has plenty of meaning for the Cougars, who have hopes of catching Hermiston for the third spot in the conference. Two Mountain View wins and a loss by Hermiston in either of its two remaining games would leave those two teams tied for third place.
A Mountain View victory could also open the door for the worse possible scenario for the Bucks. Two Hermiston victories, paired with a Pendleton loss, would leave the Bucks and the Bulldogs tied for second place, and if Hermiston were to win the coin toss it would take Pendleton three victories in the sub-tournament to qualify for the state tournament in Portland.
"It's a very big game," Zimmermann said. "A win guarantees a co-championship and a seeding no worse than second, and a loss opens the door to possibly falling all the way down to a tie for second and third in the seeding."
The Bucks defeated the Cougars 56-34 in Pendleton last month, as Stephanie Alleman scored 17 points. Chelsea Pahl had 11 and Amica Vogler added 10 in that game. The Bucks will try to do many of the same things against the Cougars in the rematch.
"We're going to have to handle their pressure and make sure they have to work hard to get their shots," Zimmermann said. "We need to score inside and outside."