It was the final seconds of Friday night’s nonleague basketball game that decided the contest between the Grant Union Prospectors and the Burns Hilanders in John Day in what turned out to be a barn-burner, Burns taking a 54-52 win with a shot at the buzzer.
Prospects for the home team looked dismal in the first quarter as Grant Union trailed 26-5.
The home team outshot the visitors 16 to 7 in the second, still trailing by 12 at the half.
“At halftime, I didn’t say much to them,” said Prospector head coach Kelsy Wright. “We were getting great looks and great opportunities, but nothing was falling for us. I just told them nothing changes, we just need to focus more on finishing — finishing your shot at the top, and that’s what they started doing.”
Grant Union came within 3 points of Burns in the third, but were down 48-34 going into the fourth.
The intensity went up several notches in the final eight minutes.
The Prospectors denied any scoring the Hilanders had in mind for most of the quarter.
Grant Union’s Tanner Elliott, Tristan Morris and Jacob Vaughan combined for 13 points to tie the score 48-48.
Elliott then hit 2-2 at the free-throw line — he was 5-6 in the quarter — for the first lead of the night for the Prospectors.
Burns tied it 50-50. Then Hilander Dakota Ceja added 2 more points.
Prospector Mason Gerry scored his 2 points of the game in the final 46 seconds, and again the teams were tied.
In the final 17 seconds, Burns inbounded the ball, and Cade Tiller dribbled back and forth before taking the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Elliott said he was proud of his team for playing with a lot of heart.
“We took care of the ball and ran our offense,” he said. “At the end, they got lucky.”
Morris led Grant Union with 19 points for the night, followed by Elliott and Vaughan with 11 apiece. Devon Stokes scored 7, and Gerry and Jordan Hall contributed 2 each.
Wright said he was pleased with how his team came back.
“Burns is ranked No. 4 in their league right now, so that’s pretty phenomenal for us to come out and play some basketball like that,” he said, adding he’s happy with where his team is as they develop through the season.
“They did a great job,” he said.
“Tanner Elliott did another great job on the offensive rebounds — he’s just an animal,” Wright said. “Tristan Morris and Jacob Vaughan both stepped up and had some great drives. ... They’re starting to click at just the right time, so I’m extremely happy with that.”
The Prospectors beat the Crane Mustangs 53-52 in nonleague action in Grant Union’s first home game of the season on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Grant Union (2-6) will face the Heppner Mustangs (4-4) in their first league game of the season at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, on the road.
The Mustangs tower over opponents with several players ranging from 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-10.
“The thing with big kids is they can’t run the floor very well, and they’re not going to be great outside shooters, so they’re going to probably pack the paint,” Wright said.
On Saturday, Dec. 22, Grant Union hosts the Pilot Rock Rockets (0-5).