JOHN DAY - Despite a 53-41 loss at the hands of Class 3A Baker on Dec. 13, coach Brad Smith and the majority of the Grant Union boys basketball team remained upbeat.
The Prospectors hung tough against the 13th-ranked Bulldogs until early in the fourth quarter when turnovers and missed free throws sent Grant Union down to its fourth defeat of the young season.
"Baker is a good team and it was turnovers and free throws down the stretch that beat us," Smith said. "We played right with them for three and a half quarters. If we could have hit a few free throws, it would have been a one or two-point game right down to the wire. We had some kids on the line who could make them, but we couldn't get anything to fall."
Grant Union held a 21-19 halftime lead before the Bulldogs scored 18 points in the third period to enter the final quarter with a 37-32 advantage.
The Prospectors nailed a basket to shave the lead to three points, but that was as close as it would get.
"We played hard for the first three quarters and like coach said, it was turnovers and free throws at the end," said Chance Ferguson, who scored a team-high 10 points for the Prospectors. "Even then we were still playing hard, but we couldn't make any shots. It's still preseason and we'll be all right."
By the 2:09 mark of the fourth quarter Baker led 49-39 and that was pretty much the ball game.
"I played all right," said Ben Dieker. "It's preseason and we'll get 'em once the season starts."
Brandon Lovell said he thought the team played a lot better against the Bulldogs than they did the last time the two teams met.
"I couldn't get anything to go down (at the free throw line)," he said. "We at least came out and gave them a better fight than we did last week when they beat us by 20 something points. I think we had them scared there for about three and a half quarters. I think we'll build from this and be a pretty good team this year."
Smith said he was happy with the defensive intensity. "It was good the whole game. It would have been nice to beat Baker, it's been a while since we did."
Grant Johnson scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Bulldogs.
Travis Heiple scored nine and for Grant Union.
La Grande 69, Grant Union 41LA GRANDE - Pressure defense by the Tigers gave Grant Union all kinds of problems in the first half as Class 3A La Grande defeated the Pros 69-41 Dec. 16.
The Tigers raced out to a 23-6 lead after the first quarter and tacked on 22 additional points in the second period.
Nolin Page scored a game-high 12 points for Grant Union.
La Grande 49, Grant Union 32LA GRANDE - After dropping a 63-38 decision to Baker Dec. 13, the road didn't get any easier for the Lady Prospectors Dec. 16 against the formidable and state-ranked Lady Tigers on their home court.
Grant Union put forth a determined effort and hung tough in the first quarter and at one point trailed 8-6 and were in possession of the ball.
However, La Grande scored the final three points of the quarter to lead 11-6 and then blistered the net with 17 points in the second period to take a 28-11 halftime advantage.
The Lady Pros battled back in the second half to trim the lead to 39-30 with four minutes left in the contest, but the Lady Tigers went on a 10-2 run to end the game and sink any hopes of a Grant Union come-from-behind victory.
Brownyn Bartlett scored 15 points for Grant Union.
Mikal Whitfield tallied 22 for La Grande, including going 12-for-14 from the free throw line.