Vale’s Kailey McGourty tries to power through the Burns defense during an Eastern Oregon League contest earlier this season. McGourty and the rest of her teammates helped the Vikings claim fourth place at the state tourney. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)
NORTH BEND – Vale girls basketball coach Jason Johnson summed up his team’s performance at the Class 3A state girls basketball tournament in three sentences.
“It was fun. A lot of fun. The most fun I’ve had in a long time,” said Johnson.
The Vikings saw big games from key players and finished out the 2020 season with a 34-33 victory over Willamina Saturday to claim fourth place at the tournament.
Johnson said the tournament play by his team was impressive.
“I think our kids came about as close to their potential as they could get,” said Johnson.
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Vale kicked off the tournament Thursday night with an epic contest against No. 2-ranked Sutherlin (22-2).
Sutherlin led 28-27 at halftime but the Vikings outscored the Bulldogs 15-9 in the third quarter for a 42-37 edge at the start of the final frame.
“We were in pretty good shape. But, you know, they are good and they kept coming at us,” said Johnson.
Sutherlin closed the gap in the final quarter but Emersyn Johnson’s free throw with 10 seconds to go tied the game 50-50 and sent the contest into overtime. In the extra frame, Sutherlin took control and outscored Vale 16-7 to clinch a 66-57 win.
Johnson scored 25 points and Matyson Siddoway poured in 20, including 15 in the first half against Sutherlin.
Friday morning, Siddoway scored 17 points and teammate Kailey McGourty added 11 as the Vikings hammered Pleasant Hill (20-5), 50-28 victory in a consolation game.
“They kind of hit a wall and we played good defense,” Johnson said.
Vale shot 54 percent from the floor in the first half against Pleasant Hill.
Saturday’s game against Willamina was another “barn burner,” said Johnson.
Johnson scored 10 points and Siddoway had nine but Vale couldn’t shake a pesky Willamina squad. Willamina staked out a 20-14 lead at halftime and was out in front 29-23 at the start of the fourth stanza.
Vale, though, outscored Willamina 11-4 in the fourth quarter and sealed the win, 34-33, on Johnson’s free-throw with 23 seconds to go. Kaya Mclean paced the Willamina attack with 14 points. Johnson said he felt Vale’s season was “fantastic.”
“We had some struggles early. If you’d told me in December we’d end up fourth in the state I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” he said.
Johnson said the Vikings peaked at the right time.
“It is nice to play our best basketball, when your best is required, and that is kind of what our kids did,” he said.
The Vikings finish the season with a 19-9 record.
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