Helping save on postage

By Paul Harder, The Observer March 11, 2009 02:20 pm
I got an idea from my cell phone company, but decided a column may be a better use of company money.

Recently my carrier was bought out. The new company overnighted my new phone two months before I could use it — I’m still wondering why.

So, I thought a group thank you letter was in order to all the Union and Wallowa County coaches, team and faculty that made for an amazing season.

Basketball in the Old Oregon League was simply amazing this season. Even up until the finish — I just hope my colleague Barrett Henderson doesn’t expect this every year.

Nearly every weekend produced one or more game’s of the week.

In fact, the girls season went down to the final second. Seeing Kiley Dewey hit a long jumper with 7.9 second left on the clock would have been enough — even more for Imbler fans. But as unbiased member of a packed Baker City High School gym, seeing Joseph go the length of the court reminded me of Christian Laettners’ game-winning shot for Duke in the 1992 NCAA East regional final against Kentucky. It’s one of those moments you’ll never forget.

The boys game carried the same tension most of the 32 minutes. Powder Valley won against a very physical Mohawk team. A special thank you needs to go out to Badgers head coach Kyle Dixon for inviting Barrett and I into the locker room after the game.

While it appeared that Class 1A basketball dominated the headline, there were some amazing performances elsewhere.

The Enterprise versus Union girls basketball games were just as great to watch as the Imbler/Joseph matchup.

As I mentioned in a previous column, wrestling captivated me this season.

Being able to watch the La Grande Tigers duals late in the season kept everyone on the edge of their seats. It also brought out the biggest sense of team unity.

Against Pendleton,

La Grande had a chance to win several times on the final match, but fell just short. Every member of the team let the emotion of the moment grab them. Head coach Klel Carson jumping frantically trying to get his wrestler to gain the last inch for a pin had to make everyone smile.

In fact, Lance Homan of Joseph is probably the only other high school coach more fun to watch than Carson.

John Tuck closed out an historic Tigers’ season, completing his run to four straight district titles, and then won his second straight state title.

Maybe more impressive was the development of his interviewing skills. I have never seen someone answer a string of open-ended questions with a one-or-two word answers. By the end of the season we got full sentences.

After all this, there was still more.

The Tigers swimming team showed heart can beat overwhelming numbers.

Often the smallest team at its swimming events,

La Grande still found a way to take first.

The will of a senior-laden boys team took them all the way to fourth in the state.

But the girls were right there on a slightly younger scale.

Freshman Logan Gomez is a testament to how bright the future is for the swim team, taking second in the 500-yard freestyle at the state meet.

We’ll cross our fingers this happens again, soon.


Paul Harder is the sports editor for The Observer. Reach him by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it