NORTH BEND — For minutes on end Tuesday night the North Bend girls basketball team chased the Sutherlin Bulldogs around the court as the visiting Bulldogs patiently looked for a shot.
Sutherlin ran nearly four minutes off the clock in the first quarter and ran another two minutes off the clock in overtime, but North Bend’s much-improved defense held up and Haley Snelgrove scored 14 points as North Bend snuck past Sutherlin 30-28 in overtime to close out the nonleague schedule on a positive note.
“We have been working on a lot defensively and it’s important for them to see the rewards of that,” Bulldogs coach Adam Decker said. “For the players I think it’s essential because they’ve been working so hard, and just to get some rewards and some dividends and just to see it pay off was really important.”
After North Bend got the ball first and scored to take a 2-0 lead, Sutherlin fell into its motion offense. With numerous ball rotations and cutters, it’s a difficult offense to defend for long periods. Offenses hope to catch defenses lazy or sleeping for a layup, but that didn’t happen often Tuesday night.
For the most part, North Bend was successful at denying passing lanes and making Sutherlin work for even short passes. North Bend led 8-2 after the first quarter, but Kiersten Haines hit a couple second-quarter 3-pointers to cut North Bend’s lead to just 12-10 at halftime.
North Bend led 20-16 after three quarters and led by as many as eight at 24-16 when Hayden Markel hit a turnaround with 6:35 to go in the fourth quarter. But Sutherlin, which is the four-time defending Class 4A state champion, though it has a relatively young and inexperienced roster this year, started to whittle away at the lead.
Sutherlin scored seven straight points, with five coming from Haines, to come within one at 24-23 with 5:28 left. Haines hit her fourth and final 3-pointer with 2:14 left that eventually sent the game to overtime.
Sutherlin had a chance to take the lead with 14.7 seconds left in regulation with a 1-and-1 situation at the free throw line. The front end clanged off the rim and went out of bounds off of Sutherlin, giving North Bend a chance with about seven seconds to go the length of the floor. Its desperation 3 was short and overtime arrived.
There, Sutherlin again tried to take the air out of the ball, running half of the four-minute period into history.
But North Bend’s defense held. Snelgrove hit a runner with 46 seconds left to give North Bend its lead, then the home team weathered some missed layups to hold on for the win.
North Bend heads into league play winners of two straight, having allowed just 25 points per game in the two wins.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” Decker said. “Everyone who went in was ready.”
North Bend opens league play at South Umpqua on Friday, then hosts rival Marshfield on Tuesday.
The overtime should prove valuable for North Bend, Decker said.
“When you have nine freshmen (between varsity and junior varsity), you need those type of games so they can learn from ‘em,” he said.