LEBANON — A year ago, the Lebanon High girls basketball team fell one game short of making it to the state tournament.
The Warriors were determined to not go through that same experience this year — and they didn’t.
Lebanon dominated from the opening tip on Saturday afternoon in a 72-25 victory over visiting Ridgeview in the first round of the 5A state playoffs.
The Warriors will play Thursday at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. No. 2 seed Lebanon will play in the last game of the opening day, tipping off at 8:15 p.m. against No. 7 seed Crater, a 41-26 winner over Central on Saturday.
Senior Paige Wombacher said earning a trip to the state tournament is the culmination of a long journey for the team.
“This isn’t just something that one of us wants, it’s something we’ve all had as a dream since we played together in middle school,” Wombacher said. “We all have a common goal and that’s to be our best together. So, it feels really great to be here right now.”
Wombacher came off the bench to score a game-high 16 points. She hit two first-half 3-pointers which helped the Warriors built an insurmountable early lead. Lebanon led 19-9 after the first quarter and 37-13 at halftime.
Senior Megan Miller added 14 points with two assists and two steals. Senior Maddy Romeo hit three 3-pointers on her way to 11 points. Junior post Ellie Croco tallied 11 points and eight rebounds.
Lebanon coach Mardy Benedict emptied his bench in the second half as 11 Warriors saw playing time.
After the win over Ridgeview, Croco remembered last year’s loss at Bend in the first round.
“We didn’t even get to go to Gill last year. Now we get to, which hasn’t happened in a long time and we’re really excited about it,” Croco said.
The Warriors dominated the Ravens defensively on Saturday, allowing nine points or fewer in each quarter. Croco said the team has been focused on defense during practice.
“In our practices we’ve been communicating really well, and I thought that transferred over well in the game,” Croco said. “We just worked on moving our feet in practice and that helped us in the game.”
Lebanon (21-3) won the Mid-Willamette Conference title and is on a 15-game winning streak. Ridgeview ends the year with a record of 10-13 and reached the postseason by placing third in the Intermountain Conference.