By Jeremy McDonald
PENDLETON, Ore.– The underdog Western Christian Boys Basketball team once more proved that they are not going anywhere as they defeated Heppner 43-38 to clinch their fifth State Final appearance since the 2017-2018 season in their 18th-straight trip to Pendleton.
“We’ve done a really great job. At the start of the season, we knew that we are in contention to compete with any team…we play high competition and we know that we can compete in every game when we come out with a killer mindset,” Lucas Zook said of the season at hand.
But getting back to the final game of the season, the Gold Medal match of them all, they had to go through a tough Mustang game flirting with the same goal after their upset of Mannahouse Academy on Thursday. Western Christian jumped out to a 20-9 lead with 3:35 left in the second quarter only to see themselves trailing 33-28 with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
Slowly though, the Pioneers put a halt to the run and had retaken the lead over those final 1:41, taking a 34-33 lead thanks to a three-pointer by Ian Martinez that helped give Western Christian some confidence going into the fourth quarter as they eventually led 40-34 with 2:51 left in the frame. Riding that momentum further to the finish line Friday night to reach Saturday night’s State Final.
“We just got to keep working hard. Our goal is to go out there and play our hardest, to battle,” said Martinez. “It’s the last game tomorrow. We’ve been doing it all season, giving it our all out there on the court and leaving it out there.”
Gavin Hall led Western Christian 14 points, five rebounds and had a block. Zook had eight points with five rebounds and Logan Hall had five assists to go with nine points.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald