NORTH BEND — After struggling on offense against Dayton in a quarterfinal loss Thursday, Nyssa’s girls wanted a quick start Friday.
The Bulldogs scored eight points in the first two minutes — five more than they had in the entire first quarter Thursday — and went on to a 37-28 win over Rainier in the consolation semifinals at North Bend High School.
“We thought in this game we wanted to get off to a fast start and put the pressure on Rainier,” Nyssa coach Jeremy Chamberlain said.
Nyssa never trailed, and held a comfortable margin most of the way against the cold-shooting Columbians. The Bulldogs didn’t shoot particularly well, either, but got a lot more chances.
“We had a huge rebounding edge,” Chamberlain said.
Nyssa out-rebounded the Columbians 44-28, including 22 offensive boards.
“I thought we played well,” said Kierra Hernandez, who had seven of those and 11 total rebounds for Nyssa. “We came out with a lot of effort all four quarters.”
Nyssa also forced 29 Rainier turnovers, and converted some of those opportunities as well.
“I think we rely a lot on our defense,” Hernandez said. “We work hard on our defense and our offense comes from it.”
Another key, Chamberlain said, was that the Bulldogs made some outside shots early, which helped open up the inside.
Sailor Hartley hit two jumpers in the first few minutes and then Britney Arredondo hit the first of her three 3-pointers.
Arredondo finished with a team-best 15 points and Hartley added 10 for the Bulldogs.
The win was an entire team effort, the players said, adding that the starters got good relief from a deep bench.
“We had a lot of players step up,” Arredondo said.
“We don’t really have a drop-off from our starters to our bench,” Hernandez added.
Rainier’s biggest problem was an inability to make baskets.
The Columbians shot just 11-for-37 from the floor, and five of those baskets came in the fourth quarter when Nyssa held a double-digit lead.
“They played good defense,” Rainier coach Doug Knox said. “We didn’t move the ball like we normally do.”
“We definitely could have done better,” said Aspen Norman, who led the Columbians with eight points. “I’m definitely proud of my team. We stuck together.”
Rainier starts three seniors, a group that also was in the tournament two years ago, when it had a similar two-and-out run, but didn’t make the final site last winter. Rainier last won a trophy in 2013, when the Columbians finished third.
“I’m disappointed for the seniors,” Knox said. “They wanted to come down and play better.
“We had a great year. We just didn’t come down and show it.”
Nyssa hasn’t been in the tournament since 2014, when the Bulldogs finished fourth. They made the same drive last year, but lost to Coquille in the playoff round. This time, their trip back to the east portion of the state will include a trophy.
“It’s a big relief,” Arredondo said. “Most of us haven’t been here and played in the state tournament.”
The Bulldogs have a big following, including a pep band that made the trip across the state along with a number of fans.
“It’s nice knowing our hard work pays off and having our whole community behind us,” Hernandez said.