Tigers advance to semifinals

By Observer staff March 13, 2014 04:58 pm

CORVALLIS — All the hard work through the opening half nearly went to waste for the La Grande boys basketball team.

The Tigers built a 28-21 lead at the half against Henley in the Class 4A OSAA state tournament quarterfinals, but had to hold on for a 59-56 win today.


La Grande struggled from the free-throw line down the stretch. The Tigers did go 11-of-16 from the line in the fourth quarter, but went 2-of-6 down the stretch to allow the Hornets to hang around.


Those missed shots and a strong offensive effort nearly kept La Grande from its first state semifinal game since 2010, a second-place finish.


As a team, Henley shot 52 percent from the floor in the second half, after opening the game shooting 38 percent. La Grande’s offense slowed down, shooting 34 percent in the second half, a drop off of 10 percent from the first two quarters.


Jesse Hilyard, a 6-foot-3 post, went to work in the paint in the third quarter, scoring eight of his 11 points in the quarter, allowing Henley to cut the lead to 39-37. From there it was the hot hand of Josh Overstreet that nearly completed the comeback. Overstreet knocked down clutch shot after clutch shot to keep the Hornets in the game. The senior guard connected on three 3-pointers in the final quarter but it wasn’t enough. Overstreet finished with 14 points in the game.


A Blake Crain layin brought the Hornets within two points, 58-56, with 18 seconds left in the game. Colby Mueller, a 6-foot-5 post, picked up an offensive foul off an inbound pass in the paint. It was one of two big turnovers for Henley in the final eight seconds. Mueller finished with seven points and five rebounds.


Kurt Boyd hit 1-of-2 free throws to give La Grande a three-point lead with three seconds left. An Overstreet heave at the end of the game was off the mark.


The Tigers were able to create a seven-point buffer after Jake Powell knocked down four consecutive free throws midway through the fourth quarter. Powell fouled out of the game 1:44 left to play. The junior guard was 6-of-6 from the free throw line, and finished with 10 points.


The Tigers defense had a big day, forcing 20 turnovers. La Grande turned those miscues into 21 points, while only allowing three points off five turnovers.


La Grande’s Brandon Dall helped the Tigers build a first half lead, scoring nine of his 11 points in the first two quarter. Dall also grabbed five rebounds.


Tyson Wicklander finished with 13 points for La Grande, while Troy Williams finished with 11 points.


La Grande, the No. 4 seed, will face the No. 1 seed Philomath at 3:15 p.m. tomorrow in Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.

Philomath hung on to defeat North Valley 44-43 to advance into the semifinals.