BURNS – The Grant Union High School boys basketball team is staying positive, even after losing a 55-58 heartbreaker Friday, Jan. 21, to the Burns Hilanders.

“We are working hard and looking to get a couple wins this weekend. My boys are staying positive and that’s a great thing,” said coach Pete Rawlins.

Ian Averett led the Prospectors in scoring with 14 points. Austin Bremner and Brent Labhart each shot for 9; Ross Rawlins, 8; Cody Wright, 7; Trevor Gill, 3; Kyler Deiter and Nick Wilson each with 2; and Reed Rawlins, 1.

“The Hilanders are always tough at home. We felt we were prepared for Burns knowing we had to contain athletes Cole Potter and Kieron Colahan, who can shoot the ball and defend Gus McConnell inside,” said Rawlins.

“Burns came out on fire, shooting the ball really well, including three 3s from Colahan in the first. We had trouble defending Potter as well. We went into the half down 21 to 35,” he said.

“Early in the third we were down by 18 points, but mounted a fast and furious comeback. We starting getting some steals, and were scoring in transition. Late in the fourth we had narrowed it to a 2-point game, but could not get over the top. We traded a few baskets with them as the clock wound down. Burns had possession with 3 seconds left, and they were able to inbound the ball and hold it. Game over,” Rawlins said.

“We knew we wanted to score the ball inside, but in the second quarter we had no inside presence, and were shooting long perimeter shots and not hitting. At half time, we talked about re-establishing our inside game,” he said. “I was really proud of Ian and Brent, who came out in the third and really worked hard to get around the hoop. Nick, Reed, Ross and Cody did a good job in the second half getting deflections and giving us scoring opportunities in transition.”

“We mounted an awesome comeback and got back into a position to win the game. A big three by Colahan late in the game was huge for Burns maintaining their edge. They were able to hang on and get the win,” said Rawlins. “I was really proud of the boys’ efforts to get back in the game. I was also really proud of Ian. Every time he touched the ball, he drew two or three defenders. He passed well and shot well and just kept playing hard.

“Austin Bremner also did a phenomenal job for us off the bench. His ability to score inside has been huge for us. Brent Labhart also gave tremendous effort.”

The current situation is frustrating for the boys and the coaches, he added.

“We have lost four league games, all that have been close, three of them decided by three points or less,” said Rawlins. “The boys are staying focused and have been prepared for these games. We have talked early on in the season about facing adversity. We know we have to continue to work hard in practice and just keep our focus and things will turn around,” he said. “This is a talented bunch of boys, and I am confident they will prevail in the end.”

On Friday, Jan. 28, the Pros host the Umatilla Vikings – a team they lost to by 1 point earlier this season. The Vikings are currently No. 1, and undefeated in the Eastern Oregon League.

“They are on a nice run, but we are confident we can give them a competitive game,” said Rawlins.

On Saturday, Jan. 29, the Pros host No. 2 in the league, Riverside. The Pirates are also battling for first, with a current 3-1 record. 

“The Pirates are good shooters, and we know we will have to contain all-league athlete Marco Carranza. We are looking forward to these rematches this weekend,” Rawlins said.

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