PENDLETON — Monroe High started fast and never trailed Friday on its way to a 57-45 win against St. Paul in an OSAA 2A girls basketball semifinal at Pendleton Convention Center.
Peyton Greene scored 13 of Monroe’s 19 first-quarter points as the Dragons (26-3) jumped out to a 10-point lead. She finished with a game-high 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
Monroe, the defending state champion, moves on to face Kennedy in Saturday’s state championship at 3:15 p.m.
The Trojans (28-1) defeated the Dragons 49-40 at the Kennedy tournament on Dec. 8 and 58-40 at the Salem Academy tournament Dec. 30.
A 7-0 fourth-quarter Monroe run Friday, with baskets from Madison Ballard, Kailey Martin and Cameron Knaggs, proved to be the difference.
St. Paul (23-6) closed to within four in the second quarter, three in the third and four in the fourth. But the Dragons had an answer every time.
Ballard stopped an 8-0 St. Paul run in the second with her first of four 3-pointers. Monroe led 28-21 at halftime.
Martin had four points and Ballard two more 3-pointers in a 12-3 run in the third after St. Paul closed to within three.
The Buckaroos got within four midway through the fourth with a 7-0 run. Ballard answered with a 3-pointer and Martin and Knaggs hit from outside to put the game out of reach for Monroe, which finished on a 13-3 run.
Kailey Martin finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four steals. Ballard added 14 points, two rebounds and two steals.
The Dragons won the rebounds 36-35, with help from Mirtha Lopez (eight) and Kyndal Martin (seven).
Isabelle Wyss had 13 points and eight rebounds for St. Paul.
Monroe also defeated St. Paul 46-30 at the St. Paul tournament on Dec. 22.
Kennedy got past Faith Bible 53-43 in Friday’s other semifinal. The Trojans’ only loss this season came against Dayton, which will play Salem Academy in the 3A title game.
Kennedy was the 2016 state champion and took third last year.
Monroe is making its fourth straight trip to the state tournament. The Dragons are 105-11 and undefeated in conference play in that stretch.