St. Mary's, Butte Falls prepare for state games
The light is growing dimmer at the end of the coaching tunnel for Tim Pflug.
Only a few days remain in Pflug's eight-year run as the St. Mary's boys basketball coach, but a big prize could be at the end of the Crusaders' storybook postseason run.
St. Mary's (16-7), the No. 2 seed from the Southern Cascade League, takes on Imbler in a Class 2A state-tournament game in Pendleton on Thursday at 3:15 p.m.
Pflug, who will step down as coach following the tournament, has guided the Crusaders to five state tournament appearances in a row.
This season's tournament march wasn't expected.
— Following a gut-wrenching, 49-48 victory over Westside Christian in a first-round playoff game, St. Mary's had a date with second-ranked Oakland.
The Crusaders used late-game heroics to oust the Oakers, 58-55.
Despite youth, the Crusaders appear well-equipped to do some damage in the tournament.
Freshman Garrett Fiddler, a 6-foot-6 post, has been a dominating presence on both ends of the court. In two postseason games, Fiddler has scored 43 points and blocked 14 shots.
Complementing Fiddler's inside play is the sophomore guard tandem Austin Grant and Richie Kaimie.
Kaimie scored a career-high 23 points, including a 3-pointer and two free throws in the final minutes of the victory over Oakland.
Grant secured the one-point victory over Westside Christian with a free throw with six seconds remaining.
Imbler (21-5), the second seed out of the WAPITI League, has made six straight trips to state, but the school will move to the Class 1A ranks next year.
It's too bad we won't get another crack (at the 2A level) next year, says fifth-year Imbler coach Ken Kramer. But we've got an opportunity to hopefully win some games (at the tournament).
We've been playing well the last few games.
The Panthers, who defeated Portland Lutheran and Pilot Rock en route to Pendleton, bring a balanced scoring attack led by 6-6 junior Tanner McIntosh's 18 points per game.
David O'Donald adds 14 a game to the mix, while Travis Hoskins is Imbler's defensive stopper.
The Panthers were bounced from the championship bracket by St. Mary's last season.
Class 1A Girls
BUTTE FALLS VS. CONDON ' Butte Falls is riding high after a 54-41 victory over McKenzie on Feb. 27 that locked up its fourth straight trip to the state tournament in Baker City.
The No. 8 Loggers, three-time Skyline A Southern Division champions, face No. 6 Condon in the first round of the eight-team tourney at 6:30 tonight.
The 2002 state-champion Blue Devils, who finished second in the Big Sky League behind top-ranked Dufur, earned the trip by way of a 40-36 victory over Columbia Christian.
State tournament trips haven't translated into success recently for the Loggers.
Butte Falls went two-and-out last year but return an experienced nucleus.
The Loggers are led by senior post Sarah Matthews, a first-team all-Skyline A performer a year ago, point guard Brianna Smeltz and post Cassy Bartel.
Matthews scored 20 points in the state-regional win.
Also in the fold is versatile Asia Million and sophomore do-everything Mickie Burns.
Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483 or e-mail .