The Grant Union Prospectors are advancing to the OSAA 2A Girls Basketball State Championship after claiming a 69-47 win over the Gervais Cougars Saturday afternoon in John Day.
The Prospectors will take on the Coquille Red Devils at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Pendleton Convention Center.
One could say the Prospectors shot the lights out Saturday. The scoreboard darkened midway through the third quarter as Grant Union was ahead 46-26.
No one tripped over a cord. The system is wireless.
After a delay of about 10 minutes, the game continued with a tabletop scoreboard, and the wall mounted scoreboard lit up a short while later.
Grant Union was hot from the start, beginning with Prospector Kaylee Wright’s tip, Madi McKrola scoring the first 2 points of the game. Hailie Wright and McKrola added another 2 points with Marissa Smith sinking 1-2 and Hailie Wright 2-2 at the free-throw line before Gervais’ Katie Hanson scored 2.
The Prospectors ended the first quarter with a 21-11 lead.
Six Prospectors were in on the scoring in the second, and Grant Union was ahead 40-26 at halftime.
Gervais missed a couple attempts at the start of the third, and Prospector Kaytlyn Wells grabbed a rebound and Hailie Wright scored.
Wells had another defensive rebound, and Kaylee Wright was fouled going up to the basket.
Kaylee sank 1-2 at the free-throw line, and when Gervais inbounded the ball, Hailie Wright stole it and scored for a 45-26 lead. McKrola scored 1-2 at the free-throw line just before the scoreboard went out.
Grant Union continued their forward push in the fourth, with several younger Prospector players taking the court in the final minute.
“This whole week we prepared for tight defense — to use our defense to take them out of their game,” said Grant Union head coach Kristi Moore. “They came out determined. They shot well and had good rebounding and second-shot opportunities.”
She said Hailie Wright was “unstoppable” and McKrola played a “solid game.”
“They all contributed and executed,” Moore said, adding the team worked together for the opportunity to be at the state tournament.
“They deserve this,” she said. “It’s an honor to coach them, and we look forward to our first game Thursday.”
Gervais head coach Kyle Buse said this was the first time this group of girls has been to the playoffs.
“I think we came out, and we put ourselves in a hole, but they kept fighting,” he said. “They were up against a tough challenge.”
He said his team will grow from this experience.
“We had an intense game,” Hailie Wright said. “I think that’s what overall won us the game.”
She added, “It’s always exciting to play at a state tournament, and we’re going to go over there and compete.”
Wells said their defense made the difference.
“We’ve always had great offense, but defense is what will win us games at state,” she said. “I’m really proud of how everyone played, and we kept pushing no matter how far we were up.”
Looking ahead to Thursday, Grant Union and Coquille are closely matched.
The Prospectors are No. 5 among OSAA’s 2A teams with an 18-5 overall record, 11-2 in league. They’ve scored 1,345 points and allowed 990 points.
Coquille is ranked No. 4 with a 25-1 overall record, 12-0 in league. They’ve scored 1,545 points and allowed 787 points.
This is Grant Union’s third consecutive trip to the state tournament. Last year, they finished in fourth place with Casey Hallgarth as head coach, and the previous year the team finished sixth when Mark Mosley was head coach.
Grant Union stats
Hailie Wright: 18 points (4-4 free throws)
Madi McKrola: 15 (3-5 free throws)
Kaylee Wright: 12 (one 3-pointer, 3-7 free throws)
Marissa Smith: 10 (one 3-pointer, 1-3 free throws)
Kaytlyn Wells: 6 (6-8 free throws)
Tyler Blood: 3 (1-2 free throws)
Baylee Combs: 2
Tiler Voigt: 2
Alcie Moore: 1 (1-2 free throws)
Araceli Vasquez: 13 (one 3-pointer)
Mary Davidson: 10 (two 3-pointers, 2-4 free throws)
Lilly Welburn: 6 (2-2 free throws)
Katie Hanson: 6
Bella Vasquez: 6 (1-4 free throws)
Salma Villegas: 2
Isabel Contreras: 2
Alexis Luna: 2