ELGIN — Elgin simply needed to get back to playing team basketball.
That, head coach Kevin Johnson said, was the key Saturday in the Huskies finishing off a 43-33 home win over Imbler, one that moved the team to 2-0 in the early stages of Old Oregon League play.
“The guys weren't playing together as a team, they weren’t utilizing each other with the team concept that we continue to push, and that last timeout that I took about 1:30 left, that's the conversation I had,” Johnson said.
Elgin largely played team ball to build an early lead, which reached as much as 17-6 early in the second quarter following a steal and layup by Jordon Palmer and a field goal by Corbin Remington.
Imbler got back within a point late in the second quarter, briefly pulled ahead in the third on a 3-point play by Nate Bingaman and later at 29-28 on a Wyatt Frost field goal, and was still within 35-33 after a Bingaman free throw with 2:40 to play.
But Elgin had the final say. Tristan Simpson had a loose ball knocked into his hands and made a jumper to extend the lead to four. Remington added two free throws and Gage McKay followed with two late baskets for the final margin. Meanwhile, the Huskies stepped up defensively, holding Imbler to just four free throws in the fourth quarter and forcing eight turnovers. Imbler was 0-for-10 from the floor in the final period, while Elgin was 4-for-12.
“We’re not the most talented team, so we have to play together. If you don't, then you're going to get beat,” Johnson said.
McKay and Simpson combined for 11 of Elgin’s 13 points in the final period. Simpson, who finished with 11 points, also had five of his team-high 11 rebounds in the fourth and added three steals. Johnson credited the senior for how he stepped up down the stretch.
“With his aggression, when I can tell him to go do something, he goes and does it, and there's no questions asked about it,” Johnson said of Simpson. “He’s a workhorse, got a great mind, nothing flusters him.”
Imbler found a rhythm offensively after falling by double digits in the second quarter to get back in the game. Frost scored twice inside during a 10-0 run, one that Jayce Burnette finished with a layup to make it a 17-16 game with 1:21 to play in the half. The teams traded baskets, but Palmer canned a 3-pointer just before the break to put Elgin up 22-18 at halftime.
Burnette had the first five points of the third, including a 3-pointer to put the Panthers ahead for the first time, 23-22, with 6:21 to play in the period. The teams traded the lead six times in the quarter before Clay Wilhelm’s putback late gave Elgin a 30-29 lead going into the fourth. The Huskies led the rest of the way.
Burnette had 10 points for Imbler and Frost scored eight. Frost also had six rebounds and five blocked shots.
Elgin (7-5 overall, 2-0 OOL) visits Griswold Tuesday, while Imbler (4-9, 2-2) hosts Cove Friday.
Heppner 52, Union 46: The Bobcats dropped their second Blue Mountain Conference game of the season Saturday on the road in Heppner.
Keegan Glenn scored 17 points to lead the Bobcats and Jace Phillips added 14 points. Glenn had 12 of his points in the second half. Union trailed by just three points at the half and 34-28 after three quarters but couldn’t complete the rally in the fourth as the Mustangs went 10-for-14 from the free-throw line in the final quarter to seal the win.
Union (11-6 overall, 2-2 BMC), which dropped into a three-way tie for third in the conference with the loss, visits Pilot Rock Tuesday.
Stanfield 53, Enterprise 45: The Outlaws took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold on as they dropped their third Blue Mountain Conference game in a row.
Enterprise led 38-36 after three quarters, but followed with just seven points in the fourth. Uriel Carrillo had three 3-pointers in the period for Stanfield as it took control late.
Devin Greer had 14 points and hit four 3-pointers to lead Enterprise, including three 3s in the third quarter. Cason Kirkland added 12 points, and Dallas Harker had 11.
Enterprise (5-6 overall, 1-3 BMC) hosts Weston-McEwen Tuesday.
Nixyaawii 81, Wallowa 38: The Golden Eagles hit 13 3-pointers Saturday, six of which came from Quanah Picard, as they took down the Cougars in an Old Oregon League contest in Wallowa.
Picard finished with 23 points as Nixyaawii darted out to a 17-point first-quarter lead and never looked back.
Wallowa was led by Kolby Mandal, who scored 12 points, and both Tristin Bales and Mason Moore had nine points.
The Cougars (4-10 overall, 0-4 OOL) host Griswold Friday.
Adrian 69, Cove 34: The Leopards saw an early lead dissipate Saturday in a nonleague home loss to Adrian.
Cove led 12-10 after one but was outscored 20-3 in the second quarter to fall behind 30-15 and never recovered.
Patrick Frisch scored 14 points to lead the Leopards, and Riley Lindsey added six points.
Cove (1-12 overall) visits Imbler Friday.
Both of Joseph’s weekend basketball games were canceled due to a fire Thursday at the charter school that damaged the gym and equipment used by both basketball teams.
The Eagles (10-3 overall, 1-0 Old Oregon League) play at Powder Valley Friday.
Powder Valley (11-3 overall, 3-0 Old Oregon League) had its Saturday game at Pine Eagle rescheduled to Monday.