The Dalles girls basketball players Kilee Hoylman, Rainie Codding, Lauryn Belanger, Jenna Miller, Grace Schatz, Mercy I’aulualo, Pearl Guzman, Dalia Mondragon and foreign exchange student, Esther Ortiz, were showered with flowers, candy and balloons Tuesday night in an emotional pregame ceremony before action against Hood River Valley at Kurtz Gym.
Head coach Brian Stevens gave praise to a group that he considers his daughters.
They have all gone through their share of battles over the years, and the fruits of that work have turned into a playoff berth.
“All of them are very special to me,” Stevens said. “When we say family, we really mean family. These girls have formed a tight bond over the years. They have been through so much, and they keep battling, and they keep going after it. After being tied for second place and not making the playoffs last year, it would have been easy for them to quit, but they chose not to, and I love them for that. I love the battle and fight that they have.”
Given the emotions of the night, The Dalles struggled early with a 21-13 halftime advantage, and then flipped the switch in the second half with runs of 20-6 and 15-6 to notch their 56-25 win.
Codding (10 points), Belanger (eight), Miller (five), Hoylman (four) and both Guzman and I’aulualo tacked on two points apiece to lead the second-half surge.
All told, TD drained 21 field goals, four 3-pointers, and made good on 10 of 22 from the free throw line.
Codding and Hoylman each posted a team-high 12 points, Belanger finished with 11, Miller added nine, I’aulualo and Guzman scored two points each.
Sophomore guard Gus Decker dropped five points on her two field goals.
Grace Meyers notched nine points and Kaitlyn McNerney chipped in eight points to lead the Eagles, who ended up hitting 10 field goals, two from long range, and made 3 of 11 free throws.
By Sunday, Stevens and his players will know where their next game is going to be played.
With his veteran group and their determination to get back to winning playoff games, there is more of a sense of urgency to keep the train moving as far as it can; hopefully, it ends on the campus of Oregon State University.
“That’s the goal right now, is getting this next game and getting to Corvallis. If we can get this next game and get to Corvallis, then anything is possible,” Stevens said. “They are really hoping for a Silverton matchup and however we can get that, will be fine. La Salle Prep is going to be tough for anyone to beat, 5A or 6A, and they are the favorites to win the championship and they should be. Silverton is ranked No. 1 right now, so we have played them once and we some familiarity with them and we feel confident if we get that draw again.”