Abby Smith

Fruitland’s Abby Smith (14) dribbles the ball as Vale’s Emmy Johnson, right, defends during the Grizzlies’ win over the Vikings on Saturday.

VALE — With just three ticks left on the clock, the Vale girls basketball team was able to inbound the ball and get it to Matyson Siddoway at the three-point line. The shot clanged off the back of the rim as the Fruitland girls basketball team held on for a gritty 34-31 win over the Vikings on Saturday afternoon.

With both teams specializing in playing physical defense, both teams struggled to keep their offenses running at a high level.

The Grizzlies were able to make 26.4 percent of their shots while Vale was held to 19 percent.

After Saturday’s game, the Grizzlies (6-7, 0-1 SRV) have just one more non-conference game while the remainder of the schedule is SRV matches. With Parma still looking to keep its top spot in the conference, Fruitland coach Amber Drollinger said there will be a scramble for the No. 2 spot in the district and a trip to the state tournament. Drollinger said the Grizzlies, Weiser and Payette are all looking to stake their claim to that spot if they can’t topple Parma.

“These girls, when they play as a team, the offense gets going and the defense gets going,” she said. “They do a very good job. It just works and they all trust each other. And they all cheer for each other all the time.”

For Fruitland, Saturday’s game was their first day back after not playing since Dec. 21.

“It was a good game to have back from break,” Drollinger said.

The Grizzlies were also a little short handed on Saturday afternoon. Senior guard Ellie Tenohlidek was not dressed to compete due to injury and freshman guard Abbi Roubidoux missed Saturday’s game to be at a soccer function.

Abby Smith led the Grizzlies with 10 points. Made Fritts scored six points.

While she only scored four points, Drollinger praised the defensive play of freshman Payton Fritts, who was a big part of the Grizzlies’ clamp down in the second quarter (when Vale made none of their eight shots).

“She just always gives one hundred percent,” Drollinger said of Fritts. “She plays hard.”

Saturday was Vale’s (2-5) second game in two days after not playing for nearly three weeks (their last game was on Dec. 19 at Parma.

“Our energy level wasn’t great today,” Vale coach Jason Johnson said. “We’ve got to learn how to play a back-to-back like this.”

Johnson agreed that the Vikings struggled to stay consistent on offense on Saturday.

Ashley Jacobs closed the first quarter with a buzzer-beater jump shot as Vale led 6-3. Then the Vikings didn’t score another field goal for just over 12 minutes, when Kailey McGourty hit a jump shot with three minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Emmy Johnson led the Vikings on offense with 11 points. Jacobs and Siddoway each scored five points.

There will not be much rest for the Vikings coming up. Saturday’s game was their second of four games in a one-week span. They will play at Baker on Tuesday, before playing both Burns and Nyssa the following week.

“We’ll work our way through it,” Johnson said.

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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