State finals tipoff tonight

Written by Barrett Henderson, The Observer March 07, 2009 09:41 am

It’s all come down to this.

Ninety-seven days after the season began, there are only four teams left playing out of the state’s 149 Class 1A teams.

Out of the four teams there is a team attempting to win its third title in a row, a team trying to win its second title in a row, another that hasn’t won in 15 years, and one that has never claimed a Class 1A title.

Two Old Oregon League rivals meet for the fourth time this season for the girls’ championships.

There’s a saying in sports that it is difficult to beat the same team three times during a season. Joseph will have to do just that if it wants to win its second straight state title.

Standing in the Eagles way is Imbler. The Panthers made the state championships in their first appearance in the Class 1A quarterfinals.

“Imbler is fantastic,” Joseph head coach Lance Homan said. “They are extremely well coached. Their defense is phenomenal. They got a lot of weapons.

“This is a rivalry. Before the game there is not a lot of talking or motivating needed.”

On Jan. 8, Imbler rallied and won at Joseph, 55-49, in overtime. The Eagles won the second meeting on Jan. 20, in Imbler, 47-42.

The third meeting came in the Old Oregon League tournament finals in Baker City on Feb. 21. Joseph used a late first half rally to overtake the Panthers, 52-37.

“We know Joseph really well,” Imbler’s Sarah Bowers said. “It wasn’t too long ago that we played them on this court. That’s all we’ve talked about since the loss was getting back here and having another shot at them.

“Our goal is to outscore them in every quarter. We’re going to take it quarter by quarter. We just want to be focused and come out strong.”

The Mohawk boys basketball team is no stranger to success in Baker City. The Mountain West League champions are attempting to win their third straight state title and seventh overall.

No team in the history of OSAA Class 1A boys basketball has won three consecutive titles. Not too many have even appeared in three straight title games.

Regis was the last to do it in the Class 2A finals from 2003 to 2005.

Another team to accomplish the feat was Powder Valley from 1978 to 1980.

This season, the Badgers make their first championship game appearance since winning it in 1994.

The Old Oregon League champions enter the final on a nine-game win streak compared to the Indians’ 17 wins in a row.

Mohawk’s last loss came on Jan. 6, to Crow, 49-37.

In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Indians, they have exceeded any preseason expectations. Mohawk has only four seniors on this season’s roster.

Mohawk has only three players who played in last year’s state finals win over Triangle Lake. In all, the current Indian roster has 48 minutes of state championship game experience.

Cord Wilkins shot 57 percent from the field in last year’s Baker City appearance. The junior scored 15 points in last season’s title game.

“It’s just an awesome feeling to be in this position,” Powder Valley head coach Kyle Dixon said. “We celebrated that semifinal win, but our guys want to win tonight.”

The girls’ championship game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip-off and will be followed by the boys’ final at 9 p.m.