February 02, 2004 11:00 pm

The pressure rises this month.

One game could determine the playoff hopes of a basketball team.

One match or heat may decide which wrestlers or swimmers continue postseason competition.

Can teams focus on one game and not think about the next one? Can each individual perform their best at the right moment?

Of course!

I've seen the determination and desire, which is necessary for the postseason, so far. Why would those attitudes change as the postseason draws closer?

The Clint Kirkland Memorial in Union went on even though the roads were packed with snow.

Two teams were unable to make the trip.

The snowy roads did not stop the seven teams from getting to Union. That shows perseverance.

Elgin/Imbler, Powder Valley, Wallowa, Enterprise, Riverside, Pine-Eagle and Grant Union made it to Union.

While on the bus and vans, the wrestlers had a lot of time to mentally prepare, and they did not disappoint when they got on the mats.

The action was intense. No one wanted to lose. Each individual performed to the best of their abilities.

There are a couple more tournaments for the teams to get prepared for their respective district tournaments.

The Wapiti and Greater Oregon League district wrestling tournaments are next weekend.

The Eastern Oregon men's basketball team showed its heart Saturday in winning their second overtime game. They lost five overtimes in January. They won their first overtime game in December.

On Saturday, the Mountaineers were ahead by eight points with 3:05 remaining in regulation. Warner Pacific erased the deficit and had a two-point lead with 24 seconds left. The Mountaineers tied the game with five seconds remaining to force the extra period.

Unlike the previous overtime losses, the Mountaineers stayed in front from the get-go and never looked back.

They have a two-game win streak after last weekend.

The No. 23 Eastern women's basketball team has showed its power in wins on the road and at home. The Mountaineers sit on top the conference and are looking to keep on getting better.

The La Grande swimmers have not had as many competitive meets as they would have wanted this season.

The La Grande Invitational turned into a dual with Baker after teams dropped out at the last minute. That hurts the boys and girls teams.

Even though the atmosphere changed, the swimmers continued to drop times in their events.

They swam in Hood River this afternoon.

They host their district meet next weekend.

District basketball tournaments are coming very soon. There are still teams gunning for a playoff spot. Other teams are jockeying for position.

I know it is very tough for those teams that will not be playing beyond the regular season. Play the remaining games by leaving everything out on the court and end the year with momentum. There is next year to get off to a better start.

For those teams in the playoff hunt, do not overlook any team. Strange things have happened down the stretch.

Give 125 percent in every game. Do not back down from the opposing team. Stay focused and remember to have fun at the same time. Forget a mistake and think about the next play.

Good luck to all the teams! I look forward to covering another exhilarating ride during the postseason.

Last year's postseason was a blast. I know this one will top that.

Raenelle Kwock is a sports writer for The Observer.