By Jeremy McDonald
JOHN DAY, Ore.– The experience of Grant Union showed itself against the young nucleus of Gervais in the first round of the Class 2A State Playoffs Saturday in the High Desert.
With four juniors and five seniors to six sophomores that played for the Cougars, mixed with Grant Union’s intensity the Prospectors panned their way to a 69-47 win to advance to Pendleton next weekend.
“We didn’t know much about them, we just came out with the same intensity like we usually do. We play like we usually do,” said Grant Union’s Hallie Wright of Gervais. “The intensity built throughout the whole game. We were pretty intense through the whole game and I think that’s what got us the ‘W’.”
Within the first three minutes of the game, that intensity, that pressure, had helped turn momentum in favor of the Prospectors who jumped out to a 9-0 lead before Gervais slowly found the bottom of the net.
The Cougars cut the deficit to 11-4, and got the game to 26-16, but they struggled to find consistency with their offense, only producing 28 points through three quarters of play.
Gervais Head Coach Kyle Buse admits that they had several good looks at times as they gained some confidence during the game, but those first three minutes dictated the reminder of the game.
“We had some good looks at times, we got kind of bullied around there in the first three minutes of the game and that was the game,” said Gervais Head Coach Kyle Buse. “Starting off the game, we dug ourselves in too many holes. We get behind and it makes it tough, it makes it tougher to come back.
“We spotted them nine points before we scored our first basket, that kind of hurt us mentally. But we had some fight at the end, that was good. I’m proud of the girls, they kept competing.”
The Cougars finished the season strong with a 19 point fourth-quarter performance as Grant Union putting the finishing touches to their 18th win of the season. The win sets up a date with Coquille to open Elite 8 play on February 28 at the Pendleton Convention Center.
“It’s amazing, I love playing at the (Pendleton Convention) Center. I’m excited,” said Wright, who had 18 points in the win. “We’re just going to come out like we usually do and play hard with intensity. We don’t know much about the teams, but we’ll play the way we know hard.”
Only graduating Alexis Luna and Jasmine Fernandez, the sophomore-core returns for a Gervais squad that had their second trip to the Sweet 16 in the past three-years. And they’re already eager to get back to the gym with open gyms and summer league to improve and prepare for next season.
“You could feed off of it like knowing how it feels and wanting to keep going farther and go over the next hurdle,” said the Cougars Katie Hansen, who had six points. “Just use this to inspire us to keep working harder to achieve our goals. We now know how it feels like to get this far.”
Celi Vasquez led Gervais with 13 points, Mary Davidson added another 10. Madi Mckrola contributed 15 and Kaylee Wright had another 12 for Grant Union.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald