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NORTH BEND — Don’t look now, but the North Bend girls basketball team is getting hot.

Following a 41-29 win over Elmira on Saturday evening, the Bulldogs have won four straight games for a 7-2 mark and a top-10 ranking in the OSAA power rankings for Class 5A. Hayden Markel scored 17 points and Haley Snelgrove added 15, despite not starting due to having a wisdom tooth pulled earlier in the day.

“I don’t know if we overlooked them,” North Bend coach Mike Forrester said. “Their record isn’t real good, so I don’t know if we overlooked them a bit or what.”

The Bulldogs got outrebounded by a significant margin in the first half, which was part of the reason why the Falcons (2-6) had the early advantage on the scoreboard.

Alexis White, Maranda Hanson, Cheyenne White, Ashley Feltz and even diminutive guard Edenn Blunt all had multiple offensive rebounds in the first half, and those more often than not led to second-chance points, which especially hurt as North Bend struggled to score.

The Bulldogs shot just 6-for-23 from the floor in the initial 16 minutes and was 0-for-4 from 3-point range, despite getting the shots they wanted to.

“We just didn’t make shots tonight,” Forrester said. “First half I felt like we had a lot of wide open shots. We’ve shot the ball pretty well recently, but we just didn’t shoot the ball well tonight. So I’m not sure if there’s any magic answer for that.”

But the Bulldogs buckled down in the second, using their base zone defense to start trapping and applying a full-court press that was largely successful in disrupting Elmira’s offense.

The Bulldogs don’t press much, or at least haven’t so far, so they forgot at times to get back in it after makes, but their general athleticism made for the beginnings of a good look defensively.

“We haven’t pressed a lot this year, but I felt like we needed to there or it would get away from us,” Forrester said. “We have a couple other little things we’ve been working on that are freaky little defenses that we ran tonight. Hopefully we’re better now at it than the start of the night.”

Elmira took a 6-4 lead after the first quarter over a North Bend team that couldn’t pull the lid off the rim, then Snelgrove entered to start the second period and made all four of her shots, though North Bend still trailed 25-23 at halftime.

A 5-0 run pushed the Bulldogs ahead for the first time at 20-18 with 3:25 to go in the half when Adrianna Frank made her only field goal of the night.

But Cassidy Coffman hit her only 3-pointer of the ball game and Alexis White and Cheyenne White added baskets to give Elmira its halftime lead.

North Bend hung around in the third quarter, getting eight of Markel’s game-high 17 in the period. It was in the third that North Bend started pressing, and it showed in the turnover counts. Elmira committed at least six turnovers in each quarter while North Bend had just 10 for the whole game.

Tied at 27 with about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, North Bend ripped off 14 of the game’s last 16 points to win going away, hitting free throws down the stretch and not giving away cheap points on the other end.

Forrester did wish to see a little better rebounding, as the Bulldogs allowed 15 offensive rebounds, but the offense was at its best in the final period, scoring 18 points and going 5-of-9 from the floor and 7-of-10 from the free throw line.

“I just as soon pull away in the first quarter,” Forrester said.

North Bend returns to Midwestern League play on Friday against 9-2 Crater.

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Sports Reporter