Nyssa Girls Take State Stage As Tournament Champs

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SALEM – Prior to the start of the girls’ basketball season, teams of the Eastern Oregon League were talking about the Nyssa Bulldogs. The Lady Bulldogs opened the season with a convincing win over La Grande, but then went on to be victorious against a host of Idaho teams, squads unknown to the rest of the state.

After a recent successful appearance and championship run at the Crusader Classic in Salem buoyed by coverage from numerous media outlets from throughout Oregon, the Lady Dawgs are on the watchlist of teams from around the state.

Nyssa opened the tournament with a dominating 59-12 win over Gold Beach. Malerie Long equaled her jersey number with 14 points to lead the Bulldogs. Gracie Johnson and Laney Hartley each added 10 points.

“We were well prepared for the teams at the tournament,” said Long. “All the hard work we put in prior to the tournament paid off. We really worked together in all the games in Salem.”

Advancing in the bracket, the Dawgs downed Central Linn, 45-38. Hartley led the way in this game with 11 points, the lone Nyssa player in double figures. Brooklyn Johns ended the day with 9 points.

“We proved to ourselves we can play with anybody,” Hartley said of the victory. “We rebounded well against Central Linn and played our game.”

Meeting host Salem Academy in the bracket title game, Nyssa took the win, 33-24 in a low scoring affair. Going with the inside game, Johnson had 11 points to lead the win while Hartley ended with 9 points.

Obviously please with his team’s results, Nyssa Coach Jeremy Chamberlain was quick to point out three different players led the team in scoring over the three-game run.

“We are able to go inside to Gracie (Johnson), but if not available, we can go outside for the shots,” said Chamberlain. “We were also able to catch some games with teams we will see later during the state tournament. We still have some work to do.”

After an excruciating bus ride home due to weather, an Idaho team took advantage of Nyssa’s fatigue, turnover problems and some hot shooting by the Idaho 2A Melba Mustangs to hand the Bulldogs their first loss of the season, 51-39. Much like Nyssa, the Mustangs came into the game with only a single loss on their record and a ranking of second in the state for the Idaho polls.

In the loss, Johnson had 13 points with Long adding 11 points.

“Melba is a really good team, spreading us out and putting us in a tough spot when they started to hit their shots,” said Chamberlain. “We missed our perimeter shots and the game showed we need to clean up our turnovers.”

Now sporting a 10-1 record, Nyssa prepares for league play with a trip to Riverside on Friday, Jan. 7.

Riverside will be tough,” said Long. “They are a team we can’t look past.”

As for Hartley and a long family history of athletics versus one team, Jan. 15 is the day on the calendar.

“I absolutely want Vale here on our court,” she said.

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