PENDLETON - It seemed Susanna Bonifer took her final basketball shot in a Weston-McEwen uniform when she passed up an opportunity to play at Blue Mountain Community College during the fall semester. A few months later, she had a change of heart.
Samantha Scudder didn't have to go very far to continue her career. The Pendleton High graduate simply crossed Northgate to the other side of Northwest Carden Avenue.
Now, the guards wear the same colors as the only two Timberwolves from Eastern Oregon on the all-freshman team while taking on a tough NWAACC East Region schedule.
For the duo, wearing the blue and white each game means taking on a more intense regimen as players.
"There's no slack time," Bonifer said. "You're working every single time. I think there's definitely a lot more in terms of ... you're expected of a lot more."
"It's more intense," Scudder said. "You have a lot of opportunities to improve intensity level."
After a few months away from the game, the 5-foot-7 Bonifer has adjusted to the junior college level. Highly recruited by BMCC while at Weston-McEwen, the Class 2A All-State performer decided to transfer from region rival Walla Walla CC - she did not play ball there - and join the Wolves after watching a scrimmage between the two teams.
"Then she called a couple of days later and wanted to come," third-year coach Amber Evans said.
Bonifer, who helped Weston-McEwen win the state 2A title two seasons ago, could practice but not play until she officially enrolled at BMCC, Evans said. Eligible since Jan. 2, she's making her contributions on the hardwood with 8.8 points per game in four contests. She scored a season-high 16 points in a Jan. 6 loss at Walla Walla (10-7, 3-1 region), which is tied with three other teams for first place in the East.
"That was a big spark for us," Evans said of Bonifer's performance that day. "We've kind of been looking for some offense right now, and she's helped a lot."
Bonifer's average is second on the Wolves to Jequala Warren's 18.8.
Scudder has averaged 2.2 in 10 appearances so far, but she's totaled nine in the previous two games.
"Sam has done a great job from the beginning," Evans said. "She's kind of been forced to be a utility player. I put her in the post, sometimes. Wherever I need her, she just goes; she asks no questions. She says 'OK' and does the very best she can. Hard work has helped. She's kind of held us together because we've been having a rough time."
The 5-3 Scudder didn't worry much about playing on the low blocks at Pendleton High, where she helped the Buckaroos win Intermountain Conference titles in 2004 and 2005. But she has no problems with her new challenge of playing anywhere on the court.
"Being a 5-foot-3 post is pretty fun," she said. "You get pushed around, but you get up and push them back."
BMCC hasn't found itself in the win column much at 2-15 overall and 0-4 in the East Region, but even with one player injured and two having left the team for personal reasons, Bonifer and Scudder see positives in the Wolves.
"I've only been here so long, but our team chemistry is not only showing, but it seems like we're getting a lot better," Bonifer said.
"We're working together more, knowing each other ... how this one plays and another one plays together," Scudder said. "We know when this one player's going to cut (to the basket) and all that stuff."
The Wolves are expecting more of each other and not playing just for the coach, Evans said.
"They're finally starting to stop accepting mediocre play from each other. Their chemistry is getting better because they're expecting more of each other."
BMCC is gearing for a road trip with stops at Yakima Valley (17-2, 3-1) Friday and Wenatchee Valley (8-10, 3-1) Saturday. The next home game for the Wolves is Jan. 24 against Treasure Valley.