By Ossie Bladine • Editor • 

Bulldogs take 3rd at state

For the second year in a row, the Willamina girls basketball team lost its semifinal matchup in the 3A state tournament to the eventual state champions.

But things ended differently this year, as the Bulldogs were able to bounce back Saturday to defeat Nyssa, 49-32, and earn third-place hardware to take home to the school’s trophy case.

“The girls were very upbeat, they were feeling good on the way home,” said coach Tom Anderson. “Obviously they would have liked to get into that championships game, but the girls bounced back the next day and played well.”

Finishing their careers with a victory was Willamina’s senior class of Whitney Anderson, Zoey Holsclaw, Kyra Toney and Devon Stackhouse.

“To finish on a win is a great way for anyone to go out on a season,” Anderson said. “But for (the seniors) to end their career like that, I think it will provide a lot of positive memories for them as they look back.”

After a disappointing 38-27 loss to Vale (who beat Valley Catholic, 52-36, on Saturday for the state title), Anderson told his team that Saturday’s game was now their championship game. After dealing with the disappointment after Friday’s game, he said his team showed up Saturday with a good attitude and ready to play.

The coach said it was one of their best defensive games he’s seen.

Whitney Anderson - who was named to the second-team all-tournament team - scored a game-high 17 points against Nyssa and had seven of the team’s 17 steals.

Willamina forced 27 turnovers and help Nyssa to under 30 percent shooting.

“They’re a very physical team and so are we,” the coach said. “We got out and pressured on the guards, that was a big thing.”

The team also shutdown Nyssa’s senior post Kaylyn Hashagen, who was averaging a double-double, holding her to just seven points on 2-of-11 shooting and five rebounds.

“It was the best we’ve done against a solid post player,” Anderson said. “When she caught the ball, we’d collapse with a double team or a triple team. We just made it tough for her to score.”

Toney finished with seven points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Holsclaw had nine points and, Sydney France scored seven and Kasey Anderson and Stackhouse each scored four points. Willamina held Nyssa without a field goal for the first 13 minutes of the game. They led 21-12 at halftime.

Nyssa pulled within three late in the third quarter. A Stackhouse jumper pushed the lead to 35-28 with five minutes left in the game and Nyssa was forced to start fouling.

Willamina iced the game at the free throw line. The team finished 24 of 30 from the charity stripe.

After the game, Willamina and its fans was awarded the sportsmanship award.

“The parents and the students that came down were great,” Anderson said.

In Friday’s semifinal game, Willamina struggled to get the ball into the hoop. They made just seven of its 46 field goal attempts (15 percent).

“(Vale) is fast. They have10 or 11 girls that are all fast,” Anderson said. “You got to give them credit, they're a very good defensive team.”

The Bulldogs played similar defense, keeping them within striking distance of the low-scoring affair.

Vale held an 18-16 lead at halftime, but scored five quick points to open the the quarter. The lead grew to 30-23 with three minutes left and Willamina was forced to start fouling as Vale pulled the ball out. Vlae hit free throws down the stretch as Willamina missed jumpers and the ending score didn’t reflect how close the game had been.

On Thursday, Willamina defeated St. Mary’s, 43-38, in overtime, to avenge a semifinal loss from a year ago.

The game was knotted at 18-18 in the third quarter when Rose Alvarez of St. Mary’s hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Then a Whitney Anderson three attempt created a long rebound and layup on the other end, and St. Mary’s got an offensive rebound and put back on its next possession for a 10-0 run.

Anderson called a timeout to keep his team focused.

“The girls looked a little down at that point. I told them to just continue to play our game and chip away at the lead,” Anderson said.

Kasey Anderson scored a layup and Stackhouse nailed a 3 pointer to cut the lead in half going into the fourth period.

“We extended our defense and created turnovers,” Anderson said. “Our defense sparked offense.”

Willamina finished the season 36-3 overall, including a perfect 14-0 in its West Valley League championship run.

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