Irrigon coach Mike Royer wasn’t disappointed in his team Friday night.
The Knights dropped a 79-39 game to Tri-Cities Prep in the Irrigon Invitational, but the tough competition helps prepare his team for the upcoming Eastern Oregon League, which begins Jan. 4 at Vale.
“We played one of the best 2B teams in Washington,” Royer said. “They are good and exposed some of our mistakes tonight. I feel good going into league. We are in a tough 3A league with Burns, Vale and Nyssa.”
What it all came down to Friday night was that the Knights (9-3) had no answer for Prep’s Talia von Oelhoffen. The 6-foot sophomore scored a game-high 34 points, including three 3-pointers, and doing a fair amount of damage inside.
“Playing against a girl like her, there’s not a whole lot you can do,” Royer said. “She shoots right over the top of you. The way she passes the ball and sees the floor makes them tough to beat.”
The Knights (9-3) appeared to be able to hang with the Jaguars in the early going of the first quarter, as a basket by Ana Zacarias tied the score at 4-4 just 90 seconds into the game.
But just as Irrigon thought it had things under control, Prep took off. The Jaguars went on a 12-0 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes to take a 16-4 lead.
Alyssa Luna hit a basket with 2:57 to play in the quarter to end the drought, but the Jaguars would score the final seven points of the quarter for a 23-6 lead.
Prep forced 16 Irrigon turnovers in the first half, taking a 39-15 lead. Von Oelhoffen had 19 points, with Alyssa Monteon adding eight.
Luna had six points for the Knights, who were unable to capitalize when von Oelhoffen left the court with three fouls with 2:15 remaining.
Zacarias scored six of her team-high 15 points in the third quarter, but the Jaguars went on a 23-10 scoring spree to take a 62-25 lead.
With von Oelhoffen on the bench the first half of the fourth quarter, the Knights went on a 7-0 run to pull within 64-32, but they would manage just seven points the rest of the game.
“We put a lot of pressure on them,” Prep coach Joe Mackay said. “No. 31 (JaLay Burns) kept breaking our press. She’s quick. I was impressed by her.”
Burns, a 5-2 freshman, added 11 points for the Knights.
Von Oelhoffen also had 34 points Thursday in a win over Nyssa. She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in just 35 games.