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Crescent Valley High was waiting for a spark.

For the first two quarters and few moments of the third, the Raiders were tight and tentative and could not shake Thurston in the 5A girls play-in game at CV.

But when Nicole Moore followed up a Gwen Gray basket with a 3-pointer about midway through the third, the Raiders snapped out of the lull and finished the quarter on a 17-0 run.

That was spark enough for CV to go on to a 60-40 win and a date at Pendleton on Friday at 6 p.m. for a first-round game. The winner there will head to the state tournament.

"I thought it was a big shot there that Nicky hit," CV coach Eric Gower said of Moore's 3. "It did give us some separation and I thought that allowed us then to just kind of play basketball."

Both teams struggled to stay on track during the first quarter and it ended at 9-9.

The Raiders looked like they were going to take control in the second and led 22-13 on a Cali McClave score, but the Colts finished out the quarter with a 3-pointer by Brooklyn Gilbert and three free throws to make CV's halftime lead 22-19.

"We were super tense just with it being sudden death," Gray said. "We just weren't playing like ourselves. We were hesitating on loose balls and we were rushing shots and rushing passes. Then the second half we started slowing down where we would go hard for hustle plays but we would slow down and take our time for shots and passes and all the little things started adding up."

The Colts took a 23-22 lead early in the third before the Raiders began to settle down.

"We started going really hard and going after every loose ball and making them run the court more," Gray said. "And then the guards started hitting outside shots, which opened up the inside and they were getting really good looks to the inside and we just really collapsed for rebounds and so it just got our normal playing in motion and how we like to play."

Once Moore hit the 3, Gray began to take control of the inside game.

She came down with rebounds and hit shot after shot as the Raiders built their lead. Gray finished with a game-high 24 points with 18 coming after halftime.

"Gwen had a huge second half and Gwen's a very, very competitive person and will take in information and then do her best and she always gives it her all," Moore said. "She really stepped it up in the second half and gave us that extra oomph that we needed and she was huge on boards."

The Raiders rely on defense and hustle to get their offense rolling and they weren't beating the Colts to the ball during the first two quarters.

That changed in the second half.

"I think we were slow to react in the first half and so at halftime we talked about that," Moore said. "One of our goals for the second half was to play our game and not come out timid or slow and we needed to be first to loose balls and flood the passing lanes and I think we really stepped that up in the second half which led to steals and easy buckets offensively."

Cali McClave finished with nine points and Moore added eight.

The Raiders will try to come out relaxed at Pendleton after Tuesday's experience.

"That's the goal. Hopefully we'll get loose on the car ride up," Gray said. "Hopefully we'll have a chance to goof off a little bit and get more comfortable."

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Sports Reporter