Senior captain rallies Valiants, Valley rolls Creswell in quarters

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior post Kim Duyck comes down with an offensive rebound against Creswell.

Lindsie LaBonte is not one to raise her voice or speak in dissenting tones at her teammates.

As one of the Valley Catholic girls' basketball senior captains, LaBonte prefers to let her game do the talking, to let her high-lofting threes and quick defensive hands lead the squad.

But, nursing a six-point lead and staring her basketball mortality in the eye as the Valiants regrouped after a rough-and-tumble first half with Creswell in the 3A state quarterfinals, the soft-spoken shooting guard stood up in the middle of the locker room and let loose.

Make better passes, LaBonte said. Start believing in each other. Play for your seniors because yearly state tournament appearances are not certain. Don't let a season's worth of hard work slide with one lackluster effort.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic post Maddie Vinson looks for someone to pass to out of the high post against Creswell.

With LaBonte's commands impelling them, the Valiants bulldozed the Bulldogs with a 22-point fourth quarter and, a much better second half overall in a 70-51 win on Thursday. LaBonte's actions spoke just as loud as her words too. The shooting guard scored a game-high 27 points on 8-13 shooting, 12 of which came in the final two quarters.

“She said, 'This is not us',” recalled junior forward Kaylynn Bush. “She said we were playing completely different from what we normally do. She was honest with us. And, we did what we needed to do. We all decided if we wanted to move to the next game, we had to play better.”

“(LaBonte) really flipped a switch and fired us up,” said sophomore post Molly Danielson. “She's a little quieter, but she used a real authoritative voice and just reminded us to focus more and play for each other.”

Losing in the quarterfinals — after winning a state championship last year and whipping nearly every foe during the regular season this year — would have been a disappointment, LaBonte said. The senior had to let her team know how hungry she was to see another day.

“I told them we had to play hard because it wasn't guaranteed we'd play tomorrow,” said LaBonte. “We couldn't slack off in this game if we really wanted to get to the semifinals. And, I know we wanted to get to the semis at least. This is my last shot, so I definitely wanted to give it my all.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior post Kim Duyck comes down with an offensive rebound against Creswell.

Spring to life

Shaking away the cobwebs of an 8:15 p.m. tip time and an unusually long day of travel and sitting around waiting for the game, Valley sprung to life late in the third quarter. LaBonte's lay-in with 10 seconds to go in the third touched off a 10-0 run that stretched to the midway point of the fourth quarter.

Junior post Bailey McDevitt buried an elbow jumper to start the fourth and went back to the hoop with another mid-range, two-dribble, pull-up jumper, going left to go up 54-40. Two free throws from Danielson and a Bush steal-and-score pushed the advantage out to 58-40 with 5:12 to go.

“We really trusted each other and trusted that we have the ability to play basketball,” said Danielson. “That's why we're here, so we started trusting and working together.”

LaBonte shook loose from a Bulldog defense with a right-to-left cross, then swooped to the cup for the righty scoop while getting shoved to the floor. The senior canned the ensuing free throw to put her team ahead 61-41.

“We all had that confidence in each other,” said LaBonte. “We realized we were on the same page and wanted to get the win. We knew we had to change something, so we rallied together.”

The first half was an all-go, no-holds-barred affair that sometimes bordered on the ragged side of things. The action was end-to-end with lots of points, turnovers and high-risk, high-reward plays. LaBonte lit the North Bend gym ablaze with 11 first-quarter points, including two threes from the left angle, but the Bulldogs hung around by mucking up the contest with rugged defense. Valley led 17-9 at the end of the first quarter and by as much as 12 in the first half. However, Creswell finished the first half on an 8-2 run that made it 30-24 at halftime.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic junior post Bailey McDevitt knocks down a pull-up jumper in the fourth quarter of the Valiants quarterfinal win over Creswell.

“Coming down to Coos Bay, everybody's going to be good,” said Bush. “Looking at the film, we thought Creswell was going to be slow, but they came out strong in the first half. We wanted it more.

“Everyone's out to get us because we won the state championship last year. We're just as hungry as them. We've been here the past two years, so this place isn't foreign to us.”

Susceptible to turnovers and poor decisions in the first half because of Creswell's strong fullcourt press, Valley straightened out its offensive execution in the second half, shooting a blistering 55 percent from the field and 81 percent (17-21) from the free-throw line. When Valley was patient, it picked apart Creswell's defense with poise and smart passes. Danielson scored 10 points, McDevitt tacked on 12, and Bush had six.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic wing Jessi Beyer dribbles the ball into the front court versus Creswell in the 3A state quarterfinals on Thursday.

Danielson, McDevitt, Bush, Maddie Vinson and Kim Duyck were dominant on the boards, helping Valley snatch a whopping 48 rebounds as a team— twice as many as Creswell. Valley scored 19 second-chance points, compared to just two from the Bulldogs.

“We focused a lot more,” said Danielson. “We just had turnovers after turnovers in the first half, but we passed the ball a lot better and ran the floor hard because we have good ballhandlers.”

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