Bulldogs 17-point fourth-quarter lifts team over visiting Churchill 43-39

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn senior Celine Gregoire scored a team-high 17 points to help the Bulldogs erase a five-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter against the Churchill Lancers Friday night. Woodburn outscored Churchill by nine to pull away with the teams fourth victory of the season.After taking an early lead in the first quarter against the Churchill Lancers Friday night, the Woodburn girls were thoroughly outplayed over the course of the next 16 minutes.

But a heroic performance on the offensive end in the fourth quarter, including eight points from senior post Celine Gregoire, gave the Bulldogs a thrilling 43-39 victory.

Woodburn entered the final period of play down 31-26 after scoring 13 combined points in the second and third quarters, but the Lancers had no answers for Gregoire in the final period.

“We put (Gregoire) back underneath, and she drew quite a few fouls,” said coach Hank Vredenburg.

Gregoire hit 6-of-7 free throws and helped spark a 17-point quarter for the Bulldogs. She finished the game with a team-high 17 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists.

She was assisted inside by teammate Kylie Doman, who had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, as well as three steals.

While Gregoire has been the team’s rock in the middle through Woodburn’s first six games, the team has built its current 4-2 record on the back of a team effort from a variety of players, said Vredenburg.

“The two Doman sisters, Kylie and Ashley, both of them have had big games,” said Vredenburg. “Lizzy Ellingson, our point guard, has had some big games too.”

It seems that every night, different players from the team are stepping up to contribute, in both big and little ways. Against Churchill, Jessica Torres came off the bench to add four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

“On different nights, different kids will come through,” said Vredenburg. “These kids have been playing together now – most of them – for three years. They’re getting the concept, and (Gregoire) has been playing very well.”

The Bulldogs are off to their best start in years and have nearly matched the team’s six wins from last season.

The fast start may be a surprise to some, but not to Vredenburg, who has seen these girls mature as players and build team chemistry over the course of several seasons.

“I kind of figured, because we’ve got five or six seniors, and they’ve played together,” said Vredenburg, “I knew we’d be pretty competitive.”

Woodburn still has two games left, including a match at McKay (8-3) that was scheduled for Tuesday, before the team must contend with the powers in the Mid-Willamette Conference.

“Our league is the toughest league in the state, so it’s going to be nip-and-tuck in league,” said Vredenburg. “But I think we can compete with the teams, which is good.”

Last season, the Mid-Willamette Conference sent six of its eight teams to the postseason. Of those six, West Albany, Corvallis and Lebanon all advanced to the eight-team state tournament, where they finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

The year before, four teams from the Mid-Willamette finished the regular season in the top 10 of the OSAA rankings.

The effect on Woodburn has been back-to-back last place finishes in the conference and a combined league record of 3-25.

Vredenburg hopes his players have the talent and experience to reverse their recent trend and contend for the playoffs this season.

The Bulldogs host McNary (3-7) Friday before opening their league schedule on Jan. 15 against No. 3 Corvallis (5-1).

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