The Union Bobcats girls basketball team showed it has the ability to respond not only after a loss, but against some fierce in-game adversity.
Less than 24 hours after a tough road setback in Stanfield Friday, Union shot the lights out to build a sizeable first-half lead, then held on after Heppner rallied to earn an important 66-59 home win over the Mustangs Saturday in Blue Mountain Conference play.
“We kind of reset,” said freshman guard Callie Glenn, who had 24 points and seven assists to lead the Bobcats. “We knew we were playing them on our home court, and we knew we had that confidence in us. Our crowd really helped. Our bench was cheering us on, and that helped.”
Union shot confidently — and effectively — during a blistering first half that saw it build as much as a 17-point lead and take a 40-24 margin into the locker room. The Bobcats made their first six shots of the second quarter, with Audrey Wells capping the rally with a reverse layup for a 31-16 lead.
For the half, Union shot 62.5 percent (15-for-24) and was 54.5 percent (6-for-11) from 3-point range.
“I could tell in pregame talk and at tip-off that my girls came ready to play tonight,” Head Coach Rhondie Rickman-Johansen said. “They were focused. They were mentally present. With our being a younger team this year, that mental aspect is huge for us. It was obvious for me tonight that was a huge part of our game. They never quit. They never backed down.”
That no-quit attitude was evident in the third quarter, when the shots stopped falling and Heppner rallied. The Mustangs scored the first 12 points of the quarter to get within 40-36 on a jumper by Madison Combe. Union gained some breathing room to take a 49-41 lead into the fourth, then won the game due in large part to effective free-throw shooting. The Bobcats were 13-for-19 from the free-throw line in the final period. Glenn was 9-for-12 from the stripe and had 11 points in the fourth, and hit seven in a row during a 20-second span that turned an eight-point lead into a 58-43 advantage.
“We had our heads level and we knew we had to focus and not get ahead (of ourselves),” Glenn said of withstanding the Heppner rally. “We took it into our own hands and slowed down.”
Rickman-Johansen allowed her team to play through the Heppner rally rather than take a timeout to regroup. The move paid off, and she said she was proud of her team for not panicking during the rough patch.
“I put a lot of trust in them, it was honestly my feeling and watching them during that (time) that they needed the empowerment to take care of it and know they could work through it without me having to intervene,” she said.
Union, despite the second-half cooldown, still shot 51 percent (20-for-39). Wells scored nine points and both Taylar Daggett and Abriel O’Reilly had eight points as Union posted its highest offensive output since scoring 76 points in a playoff win over Bonanza in February 2015.
“If you look at the stats, tonight’s what it should look like every night — what we wish for. There’s lots of contributors, and that makes a difference,” the Union coach said.
The win also kept Union in the hunt for third place in the BMC and having a chance to play for an automatic state playoff berth. If the Bobcats finish fourth — where they are currently — they’ll have to rely on the OSAA rankings to possibly gain an at-large bid. As of Sunday, they would be the first team out.
“We’ll have to see how it all plays out,” Rickman-Johansen said.
Heppner, which shot 43 percent, was led by Sydney Wilson’s 30 points.
Union (11-9 overall, 5-5 BMC) hosts Weston-McEwen Tuesday.
La Grande 71, McLoughlin 25
Camryn Collman scored the game’s first 15 points and finished with a game-high 17 points, all of which came in the first quarter, as the La Grande Tigers girls basketball team dismantled the McLoughlin Pioneers at home in Greater Oregon League play Saturday, 71-25.
The early surge from Collman helped boost La Grande to a 22-7 lead after one quarter, and it only got worse from there for Mac-Hi. The Tigers outscored the Pioneers 20-1 in the second quarter for a 42-8 halftime lead, and pushed the margin to 40 points by the end of the third quarter.
Josie Reagan and Lauran Rinker also reached double figures for La Grande, scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively. Ella Dunlap and Jacie Howton both added eight points as 10 Tigers scored in the victory.
La Grande (12-6 overall, 4-1 GOL) hosts Baker Friday to wrap up the regular season, and could clinch a share of the GOL title with a win.
Joseph 58, Elgin 30
Sabrina Albee had 12 of her game-high 20 points in the first half, and the Joseph Eagles girls basketball team built an early double-digit lead on its way to a 58-30 road win over the Elgin Huskies Saturday in Old Oregon League action.
Haley Miller added 13 points and Madelyn Nelson had 11 for the Eagles, who took a 32-16 lead at the half then added to it in the second half. The Eagles’ defense was also stout as it forced 28 turnovers.
Jayden Palmer scored eight points to lead Elgin, while Kaelin Evans had six points.
Joseph (19-2 overall, 9-0 OOL), which needs two more wins to lock up the OOL-North, hosts Imbler Tuesday, while Elgin (9-10, 5-5) hosts Nixyaawii Friday and can lock up the North’s third seed to the OOL district tournament with a win.
Nixyaawii 53, Imbler 37
The Imbler Panthers girls basketball team rallied in the second half to pull close to the Nixyaawii Golden Eagles, only to see Nixy respond in the fourth quarter for a 53-37 home win Saturday in Old Oregon League play.
Imbler entered the second half down 27-18, but closed the gap to 33-31 after three quarters behind Caysie McGinness, who had nine points in the third.
The Golden Eagles, though, caught fire in the fourth, scoring 20 points — led by 11 from Lark Moses — to pull away.
McGinness finished with 27 points — 21 of which came in the second and third quarters — to lead Imbler. Chloe Birkmaier added four points.
Despite the loss, Imbler (5-13 overall, 3-6 OOL) remains in a tie for second place in the OOL-South. The Panthers visit Joseph Tuesday.
Cove 48, Griswold 34
A big first quarter gave the Cove Leopards girls basketball team the margin it needed in a 48-34 home win over the Griswold Grizzlies Saturday in Old Oregon League play to lift Cove into a tie for second in the OOL-South.
Cove outscored Griswold 19-5 in the opening quarter and maintained a double-digit lead throughout, leading 31-19 at the half and 39-27 through three quarters.
Austin Kendall had 11 points to lead a balanced offense for Cove. Kierra Moore added nine points and both Ellie Hines-Dunlap and Maggie Frisch scored eight points.
Cove (9-10 overall, 3-6 OOL) visits Imbler Friday, with the winner likely securing second place in the OOL-South and dropping the loser to third.
Enterprise 76, Stanfield 36
Shelby Moncrief and Lexie Gassett both scored 19 points to lead four players in double figures as the Enterprise Outlaws girls basketball team routed Stanfield at home, 76-36, Saturday in Blue Mountain Conference play.
Carsyn Miller added 14 points and Karli Bedard had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Outlaws. Ashlyn Gray also had 11 boards. Moncrief added six steals and both Gassett and Gray had four assists.
The Outlaws built an 11-point lead after one quarter, then outscored Stanfield 21-4 in the second to take a commanding 43-15 halftime lead.
Enterprise (17-4 overall, 9-2 BMC) travels to Grant Union Friday, and can clinch at worst a share of the BMC regular-season title with a win.
Wallowa 44, Pine Eagle 35
The Wallowa Cougars girls basketball team earned its sixth win in a row with a 44-35 home victory over the Pine Eagle Spartans Saturday in Old Oregon League play.
Stats were not available.
Wallowa (11-9 overall, 8-2 OOL), which has clinched no worse than second in the OOL-North, travels to Joseph Friday.
Elgin 57, Cove 53
Jayden Palmer scored 16 points to lead three players in double figures as the Elgin Huskies girls basketball team scored an important 57-53 home win over the Cove Leopards Friday in Old Oregon League play.
The Huskies saw a six-point lead whittled down to 44-43 after three quarters, but managed to hold on for the victory.
Tymra Anderson added 15 points and Jocelyn Palmer had 12 points and seven steals for the Huskies.
Cove was led by Raegan Duby and Maggie Frisch, both of whom had 10 points. Austin Kendall added nine points.
Wallowa 36, Imbler 23
Shanna Rae Tillery led the way with 11 points as the Wallowa Cougars girls basketball team came alive after a slow first quarter to pull away for a 36-23 road win over the Imbler Panthers Friday in Old Oregon League play.
Wallowa trailed 6-4 after one before pulling ahead by four at halftime and building a double-digit lead after three quarters of 26-16.
Riley Ferré added 10 points for Wallowa.
Imbler was led by Caysie McGinness, who scored eight points, while Anika McDonald added five points.
Stanfield 62, Union 58
Despite a 27-point night from Callie Glenn, the Union Bobcats girls basketball team suffered a tough 62-58 road loss to the Stanfield Tigers Friday in Blue Mountain Conference play.
Glenn had 12 points in the first quarter and 17 at halftime for Union. The Bobcats trailed 35-34 at halftime and 43-42 after three quarters, but were unable to come away with the win.
Both teams struggled from the free-throw line, with Union going 22-for-39 and Stanfield 8-for-19.
Kaylin Nowak added 14 points for Union.
Enterprise 41, Heppner 34
Lexie Gassett scored 14 points, Karli Bedard turned in a double-double and the Enterprise Outlaws girls basketball team earned an important 41-34 home win over the Heppner Mustangs Friday in Blue Mountain Conference play.
Bedard finished with 11 points and 19 rebounds for the Outlaws. The teams were tied at 5-5 after one quarter, but Enterprise used a surge in the second and third quarters to build a 31-22 lead after three, then held on.
The victory broke a tie for second between the two squads, and kept Enterprise close on the heels of Grant Union for the top seed in the BMC.
Joseph 52, Pine Eagle 23
Sabrina Albee outscored the Pine Eagle Spartans girls basketball team on her own Friday, pouring in 30 points — including 22 in the first half — to lead the Joseph Eagles to a 52-23 road win in Old Oregon League play.
Albee had 15 points in the second quarter alone to spark a 24-3 run, which gave Joseph a resounding 40-11 lead at the half.
Haley Miller added 10 points for the Eagles, who also forced the Spartans to commit 31 turnovers.