Valley Catholic's girls win two of three at the 3A state tournament and finish in third place
SALEM - There was no championship and there was no championship-game appearance for the Valley Catholic girls basketball team this year.
But the Valiants, runners-up at state a year ago, made sure they didn't go home from the Class 3A state tournament empty-handed. The West Valley League champions roared back from their Friday semifinal loss in impressive fashion, blowing past Vale 61-32 to claim third-place on Saturday at Willamette University.
'I think our team played amazing today. I'm so proud of our team and I'm so happy I got to finish my senior year on this huge win,' said Valley Catholic post Lisa Gallinat, who won first-team all-tournament honors after scoring 22 points, grabbing six rebounds and making six steals against Vale. 'It would have been better if we were playing tonight, but I'm really happy with our finish.'
'We really wanted to be in the (championship) game tonight, but we're just happy to be going home with some hardware,' said senior guard Nicole Hardisty, who finished with eight points and five rebounds against Vale. 'We were so frustrated from last night, we decided we're just going to go out and take it all out on the floor tonight. Go big or go home.'
'The girls came down here to win the tournament so I wasn't sure how they'd come back today but we just talked about the fact that we've only lost two games to 3A opponents the last two years and we didn't want to lose another one,' added Valley Catholic coach John Innes. 'I think the kids got a little excited about that. I think third meant a little more to them knowing that was the case.'
The Valiants opened Saturday's game on an absolute roll, with Crisman burying a three-pointer 22 seconds into the contest and leading 13-3 at the end of the first quarter. VC kept the heat on in the second quarter too, getting another Crisman 'three' 19 seconds into the quarter and scoring 11 more points in a row to lead 24-3 when senior Kate Emery hit a free throw with 5:05 left in the first half.
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To its credit, Vale (14-14), the second-place finisher in the Eastern Oregon League, battled back within 29-15 at halftime, then added a seven-point run to open the third quarter and cut VC's lead to 29-22 on Sarah Steinart's layin with 6:18 left in the period.
But the Vikings' highlight reel ended then and there. Suitably reawakened, the Valiants closed the third period on a 16-1 run powered by Picken's eight points and six by Gallinat, extended their lead to 45-23 and cruised through the final eight minutes to win by 29.
'I was really ready to go. I definitely didn't want to go home with a fifth place,' said Crisman, a junior who won second-team all-tournament honors. 'Today's game was really good. Everyone played really hard.'
'We came in today and we were just like 'We deserve to play in the championship game, but we can't do anything about it, so this is our game,'' said Picken, a sophomore who also won second-team all-tournament honors after leading the tournament in rebounding. 'We just wanted to show everyone how hard we worked and that we deserved to be in the championship game.'
The Valiants probably made believers of the Vikings, who hit just 11-of-52 shots from the floor, committed 27 turnovers and saw Valley Catholic outscore them by 21 points at the free throw line.
'They didn't think they'd be playing Saturday afternoon, but they wanted to win it, they wanted to finish their season with a win,' Innes said. 'I think especially our seniors were determined to go out with a win and I think they especially played with a lot of emotion.'
In addition to Gallinat and Hardity's efforts, Picken added 13 points, nine rebounds and three steals, and Crisman added eight points and three steals.
Vanessa Lovell led Vale with nine points while Kayla Haueter added seven in the loss. Katy Luetjens led the Vikings with nine rebounds.