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Valiants survive Rainier in semis

Rainier leads by 12 in the third quarter but can't stop VC


COOS BAY — Valley Catholic’s girls basketball team knew this day was coming.

A day of reckoning. A day of challenge. A day for revenge.

The Lewis & Clark League-champion Valiants got all that and more in the Class 3A state semifinals on Friday night at Marshfield High School. There, VC finally exorcised its greatest demon — L&C foe Rainier — in a thrilling 44-40 gut-check of victory that also gave it a second straight berth in the state championship game.by: MILES VANCE - FLYING HIGH - Valley Catholic junior guard Grace Mannen lofts a shot over Rainier's Kylee Crape (left) and Jaden Thurston in the Valiants' Friday night semifinal win at the Class 3A state tournament at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay.

“This is unbelievable. I can’t believe we’re going back (to the championship),” said Valley Catholic junior Bailey McDevitt, who led her team with nine points and four rebounds. “And to beat Rainier in this game, it’s just really exciting.”

“We have played Rainier numerous times in the past and we knew what we were up against,” said VC junior Grace Mannen, who had a key basket late in the game and also grabbed four rebounds. “We did not let them get inside our heads and we stuck together and we teamed together and it made all the difference in the end.”

The win also put an end to an incredible three-year rivalry between the Valiants and the Columbians, the L&C runners-up, that had seen the two teams split 10 games before Friday night.

“That put us up 6-5 and it gave me some closure for my senior year,” said Valley Catholic senior Chelsea Alsdorf, who had nine points, three rebounds and two assists in the win.

Given these two teams’ history, Friday’s game promised to be a bruiser and it was. The first half alone featured seven lead changes and six ties, the Valiants making their mark from long range early with three-pointers from Lindsie LaBonte, Emily Gabourel and Alsdorf, then getting a McDevitt hoop at the end of the first quarter to lead 11-9.

But the Columbians — led by 11 points each from Kaylea Knox and Kylee Crape — took control of the game in the second quarter. While Valley Catholic’s offense shut down after a LaBonte “three” 53 seconds into the period — the Valiants hit just 2-of-11 from the floor in the period — Rainier got seven from Crape and used a 7-0 run over the final 2:41 of the half to lead 26-19.

Things got worse for VC before they got better too, with the Columbians pushing their lead to 32-20 at the start of the third quarter on a Crape putback, an Aubree Coffman jumpshot and another jumper from Dominique Pedersen with 4:47 left in the period.

But Valley Catholic did not fold, got both Knox and Crape off the floor with foul trouble, and began to scrap its way back into contention. Indeed, VC ripped off a 13-1 stretch in the final 4:38 of the quarter to close within 36-33, that run highlighted by freshman Molly Danielson’s six points and an Alsdorf “three.”

But it took a long time — a long, looonnnggg time — before VC got any closer. Rainier pushed its lead back to 38-33 on a Jenny Westlund jumpshot one minute into the fourth quarter and that’s where the score stayed until McDevitt hit one foul shot with 4:04 left to play.

Four possessions later, the Valiants got even closer when Knox fouled out and Kaylynn Bush hit one foul shot to make it 38-35 with 2:12 left. LaBonte got VC back to dead-even at 38-38 with a foul shot and a layin set up by an Alsdorf steal in the backcourt with one minute on the clock.

Valley then pushed ahead when Mannen took a long pass from Alsdorf and scored on the break to make it 40-38 with 52 seconds to go, and after a Rainier turnover, Gabourel hit a free throw to push it to 41-38.

The Columbians answered with a breakaway by Westlund after Crape blocked Bush’s shot, but Alsdorf hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 13 seconds to seal the victory.

“It was a slow comeback and a lot of that was because they took away our momentum,” Alsdorf said. “They knew exactly how to play us. But even with that, we made the comeback and that’s what was important.”

“It was just not giving up,” Mannen added. “That’s something that Valley Catholic is so good at, playing hard, playing together, playing with heart. And we never give up on one another. We never hung our heads no matter how deep the deficit, we always had faith and that’s what mattered.”

LaBonte added nine points, five steals, three rebounds and two assists in the win, and Danielson had six points. Knox finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals for Rainier, and Crape added 11 points and eight boards.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to milesvance.exposuremanager.com.




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