Three 3-point shots in a row helped lift the Grant Union Prospectors up in the final three minutes of Saturday’s 47-46 victory over the Heppner Mustangs.
Heppner was 8-0 in the Blue Mountain Conference coming into the contest, Grant Union 5-3.
The Prospectors lost a 4-point game to Heppner on the road in late December and were eager for a comeback, making Saturday’s win that much sweeter.
Cheerleaders, a pep band and supportive fans contributed to a loud atmosphere as Grant Union led 8-6 in the first quarter and 14-12 in the second.
The teams knotted the score three times in the third before Heppner pulled ahead, 31-27, going into the fourth.
Prospector Mason Gerry started off the scoring with a 2-pointer. Then the Mustangs had a 9-point run, including Trent Smith’s 2-points off a steal.
Grant Union was down 40-29 when they started turning the game around.
Prospector Devon Stokes grabbed a defensive rebound, and Jacob Vaughan scored a 3-pointer with 3:38 left in the game.
Grant Union’s Tristan Morris followed up with another 3-point shot, and Stokes landed another to put Grant Union within 2 points of Heppner, 40-38.
The battle intensified with Mustangs’ Smith hitting 2-2 free throws, and Prospector Tanner Elliott answering back with 2-2.
Mustang Logan Burright sank a 2-pointer, and Morris added 2 for the Prospectors.
With 1 minute left in the game, Smith hit a 3-pointer for the Mustangs.
Elliott shot 1-2 at the free-throw line with 41 seconds to go to put Grant Union within 3 points of Heppner, 46-43, and he went 1-1 just 10 seconds later.
When Elliott was fouled, he drew a little blood on his shirt, and the game was held up momentarily, Grant Union head coach Kelsy Wright said after the game.
Shortly after, a Heppner player chased an errant pass, landing in the stands. With the ball in Grant Union’s possession, Morris brought Prospector fans to their feet, hitting a second 3-pointer for the 1-point lead with less than 20 seconds to go.
In the final five seconds of the game, Heppner had possession of the ball and called a time out.
Back in play, Elliott was able to get a hand on a Mustang pass before they could score.
“It was a great game,” Wright said. “We’ve been practicing for Heppner for quite some time now.”
He said they changed up their defensive and offensive game plan in preparation.
“The boys just came out and executed everything perfectly,” he said. “It was just an awesome team effort.”
He said when the team was down several points they had to dig deep.
“They knew they wanted to win it, and they wanted it really bad, and they showed it tonight,” he said.
Wright said Vaughan showed a lot of energy on the defensive side, and Elliott rebounded “like crazy.”
He said he was glad to have Morris, who was recovering from an injury, back on the court.
“He hit some big shots for us late in the game,” Wright said.
Elliott said they played with composure, and everything seemed to click for them.
“We pulled it together in the final minutes,” he said. “I think we believed we could beat these guys.”
He added, “Our defense was key tonight. We executed on those last few turnovers for the win.”
Elliott led Grant Union with 15 points, followed by Vaughan with 14 and Morris with 8.
Grant Union also defeated the Pilot Rock Rockets on Friday 54-45.
The Prospectors (6-3) host the Weston-McEwen TigerScots (2-6) at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Grant Union vs. Heppner
Tanner Elliott: 15 points (5-9 free-throws)
Jacob Vaughan: 14 (three 3-pointers, 1-4 free throws)
Tristan Morris: 8 (two 3-pointers)
Jordan Hall: 5 (1-1 free throws)
Devon Stokes: 3 (one 3-pointer)
Mason Gerry: 2
Trent Smith: 17
Tyler Carter: 9
Mason Lehman: 7
Hunter Nichols: 4
Logan Burright: 4
Gibson McCurry: 2
Justin McAninch: 2
Cason Mitchell: 1
2A Blue Mountain Conference boys standings
Heppner, 8-1 conference, 14-7 overall, No. 14 in state
Union, 6-2, 13-5, No. 15
Grant Union, 6-3, 8-10, No. 26
Stanfield, 4-4, 7-12, No. 33
Enterprise, 3-6, 9-11, No. 28
Weston-McEwen, 2-6, 4-15, No. 39
Pilot Rock, 1-8, 2-17, No. 46