The girls take center stage in Tuesday's Big Sky Conference basketball action, with the night's biggest game a rematch between the defending state champion Condon Blue Devils and the Ione Cardinals.

Condon won the first game 66-37 and the Cardinals are hoping a healthy Natalie McElligott and homecourt advantage can be the difference the second time around.

McElligott was hampered by an ankle injury during the first meeting and the Cardinals can desperately use her speed and outside shooting against the Blue Devils.

"She was about 70 percent for the first game," Cardinals coach Dana Heideman said.

Jessica Snyder led Condon with 22 points in the contest, while Angela Anderson added 12 and Kristin Aamodt put in 11 for the Blue Devil cause.

McElligott finished with 13 points, while cousin Diana McElligott added 11 for the Cardinals, who trailed 34-18 at halftime.

Condon enters the game with 9-0 conference record, while the Cardinals are 8-1 in conference play and can't afford to drop two games behind the Blue Devils.

The boys meeting between the same two schools has some big playoff implications as well. Ione and Condon are two teams out of four that are tied for second place at 4-5 in conference play, two games behind the Echo Cougars, who currently sit at 6-3. Ione escaped with a 57-50 road victory behind Tyler Brown's 22 points and the Blue Devils will be looking for some revenge.

"I hope we're ready to play," Ione coach Dennis Stefani said. "It's getting to be that time of year. Everybody's right there, which is how this side of the league is."

The Helix Grizzlies (9-10, 4-5 BSC) boys team has run off four consecutive conference victories and have played themselves back into the playoff picture. Two weeks ago Helix was sitting five games behind the Cougars in conference play, but with a win at Echo Tuesday could pull within a game of the league lead.

Helix coach DeWayne Dunlap predicted the conference leader in the East Division could have five losses and that's a definite possibility.

The Cougars have dropped three of their last four conference games and will look to get untracked against a Helix team they defeated 43-37 earlier, as Curtis Bodewig scored 19 points. Echo held a 10-3 lead after the first quarter and held on for the victory.

The Grizzlies will need to get some production from their bench, as Kurtis Scott and Jeremy Parker combined for 35 of the team's 37 points in the first meeting with Echo.

The Echo girls will be looking to even the season series with Helix, as the Grizzlies exploded for 18 first-quarter points and went on to defeat the Cougars 43-34 in the season's first meeting between the two.

Jennifer Denton scored 12 points for the Grizzlies, while Julie Kvern added 11 for Helix. Jessica Zita led the Cougars with 12 points.

The Arlington boys are the talk of the West Division and will put their undefeated conference record on the line when they travel to Dufur. After an opening-season loss, the Honkers have run-off 17 consecutive victories, including nine conference wins. Jeremy Rosenbalm does the bulk of the work offensively for Arlington, but Lukas Welker has also been on a roll lately and gives the Honkers another weapon.

The Arlington girls are suffering from some growing pains, something to be expected of a team that starts three freshman, but are coming off a solid defensive effort against Condon. The Honkers may well be the team of the future in the Big Sky Conference, but will have their hands full against a solid Dufur squad.


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