JOHN DAY - The Grant Union High School boys basketball team are gearing up for first-round state playoff action this Saturday, Feb. 25.
As the Eastern Oregon League's No. 3 squad, the Prospectors will face a tough Blanchet Catholic team on the Cavaliers' home court beginning at 1 p.m.
The Salem team is a No. 1 seed, having claimed first place in the PacWest Conference. They went 16-2 in league and 23-3 overall.
They are ranked No. 1 in the Oregon State Activities Association's power rankings.
"This will be a very big challenge. They are one of the top teams in the state," said Grant Union coach Steve Speth. "We are getting scouting information on them, and we will come up with the best game plan possible."
To earn their spot in the playoffs, Grant Union beat Vale a second time last week.
In the Pros' final home game of the year, they topped the Vikings 68-56.
Fans filled the stands, with students dressing in support with the theme of "On the Hunt."
"We really worked hard on team basketball all week long. We prepared very, very hard for Vale, even in the last week knowing that this game was the game to reach our goals for the season," Speth said.
"We set a team goal to be the first team to reach the state playoffs in several years, and these guys did it," he said.
Speth said his athletes played well as a team.
"They played team defense, team offense, and I'm very, very proud of them. The key to the victory was just us playing together as a team, and sharing the basketball and really having each other's backs," he said.
The win brought the Pros to 5-5 in league and 11-10 overall. They are at No. 25 in the power rankings.
League foes Riverside and Burns also are off to the playoffs. Riverside, No. 1 in the conference, went 10-0 in league, 22-22 overall and is power-ranked No. 8. Burns, at No. 2 in league, went 7-3 in league, 16-7 overall, and is power-ranked No. 19.
Riverside, a No. 4 seed, hosts Horizon Christian (No. 5) of Tualatin this Saturday, while Burns heads to Cascade Christian. Burns is a No. 7 seed, while Cascade is a No. 2.