PENDLETON - The Pendleton Bucks love playing in front of their fans on their home court but they'd rather not do it again until next season.
With Tuesday's 51-26 victory over Hood River Valley, the Bucks' hopes for an Intermountain Conference girls basketball championship, and an automatic berth to the state tournament in Portland, are still very much alive.
Pendleton has one conference game remaining when it travels to Mountain View Friday. If the Bucks finish the regular season tied with Redmond for the conference championship, a coin flip will take place to determine who gets the No. 1 seed for the state tournament, with the remaining team hosting a sub-tournament game with the winner also advancing to Portland.
It's not that the Bucks are a bad home team, it's just that they would much rather receive the automatic invite to the Chiles Center. But if they have to play a home game, it's certainly not the end of the world for the team.
"We finished undefeated in league play at home and just lost the one game to La Grande," Bucks coach Todd Zimmermann said. "We're proud of that. That has a lot to do with the senior leadership we have and the work ethic they relay to the other players on the team."
The team's four seniors - Genna Melton, Stephanie Alleman, Jessica Drop and Chelsea Pahl - were honored in pre-game festivities for Senior Night.
Once the game started the Bucks were all business as they jumped out to a 9-2 lead less than three minutes and were never threatened again, as Pendleton's defense stymied the Eagles all night.
"We really preach to our kids that you may not always shoot well, but defense can be there every night," Zimmermann said. "It was again tonight.
"We limited them to eight field goals for the game and they turned it over as many times as they got to shoot. I'm pretty happy with the way we played defensively."
The Bucks led 24-8 at halftime and allowed just four points in the third quarter. A couple of Hood River Valley 3-point field goals in the final minutes made the final score a bit more respectable.
Offensively, the Bucks had plenty of good scoring opportunities, but couldn't get the ball to drop. Pendleton shot 29 percent as a team.
One player who didn't have trouble hitting her shots was Amica Vogler, who led Pendleton with 12 points on 4 for 8 shooting.
"Amica played a little point guard tonight and did a nice job running the floor for us," Zimmermann said.
"She's one of the gals that did shoot the ball well tonight and she kind of set the tone early hitting that 3-pointer and getting our motor running a little bit."
Chelsea Pahl's three steals left her tied for the all-time single-season record and she also finished with three assists. Vogler recorded four steals and Christa Wise led the Bucks with seven rebounds.
Carly Schuening returned to action from a back injury and Zimmermann said it was nice to see her on the court again.
"We're getting healthy at the right time and we're excited," Zimmermann said. "It's playoff time and we're going down to (fourth place) Mountain View with a chance to win our first league title in a decade."
*Pendleton 11-2 18-5
*Redmond 10-2 18-4
*Hermiston 9-3 18-4
*Mountain View 8-4 12-10
Hood River 5-8 6-15
Bend 4-8 7-16
Summit 1-11 4-17
Crook County 1-11 3-19
*=Clinched state playoff berth