THE DALLES - Even with a playoff spot on the line, the Lady Bucks allowed themselves to have a little fun Tuesday and the result was one of their best games since the beginning of the conference schedule.
The Bucks came away with a 70-41 win over The Dalles-Wahtonka and saw the return of Kristen Van Cleave as a top scoring option.
"This time of year we're trying to do some things and I know the pressure is on these kids because of the playoff picture and we're trying to tell them to go out and have fun," Pendleton coach Ryan Sams said. "Some of them were trying to do too much and not play within themselves."
After starting the season strong, Van Cleave saw a drop in her numbers as the Bucks (13-8, 7-6 IMC) struggled through the middle of the Intermountain Conference season.
Sams said her game-high 24 points and eight rebounds came in her best game as a Buckaroo. Van Cleave had not topped 20 points since she scored 21 against Clarkston Dec. 13.
Sam McCloud added 18 points, seven rebounds, five steals and five assists.
Alexis Doutre also posted double digits in scoring with 11 points.
The Dalles-Wahtonka (2-17, 0-13 IMC) was led by 11 points from Sydney Hege.
Pendleton's win Tuesday sets up a home season-finale with Hermiston and a winner-in playoff scenario.
Hermiston (8-14, 7-6 IMC) must win the game in Pendleton to make the playoffs and Pendleton can guarantee a berth with a victory.
Bend beat Crook County 42-39 Tuesday to remain in a three-way tie for third/fourth place and also can guarantee a playoff berth with a win at Mountain View Friday.
Sams said his team is looking for a little payback after the Dawgs took a 50-42 decision Jan. 29.
"I think the girls want revenge and we're going to be on our home court," he said. "Whoever takes care of the ball better is going to be the winner."