BAKER CITY — It was never pretty, but the Echo boys basketball team completed its mission on Thursday with a 41-34 win over Wallowa in the first round of the Old Oregon League district tournament at Baker High School.
The teams evenly split the game’s 48 turnovers, but Echo grabbed an early lead and never let it go.
“The team’s motto is ‘Finish Strong’, and that’s what they did,” said Echo coach Kreig Mueller. “We were somewhat in control. (Wallowa) made a few runs, and were a pretty emotional team, but we got back into it and we finished the game.”
Devan Craig led Echo (9-15) in scoring with 14 points, and Morgan Marcum added eight points and 12 rebounds.
Christopher Nobles accounted for most of the offense for Wallowa (5-18) with 20 points.
Echo was ahead 29-15 at halftime, thanks mostly to its defense Mueller said, and the Cougars know they’ll need to bring a more even performance into the semifinals against No. 1 Powder Valley.
“We’ve focused on defense in the practice the last three weeks, because we knew defense has to come up big this weekend,” Mueller said. “We got this win. If we show up like that (against Powder Valley) it’s not going to end the same way. But our guys always bounce back well.”
The win guarantees Echo two more games at districts and a shot at a state tournament berth. The top three teams will advance to the state Round of 24.
Echo and Powder Valley tip off today at 8:15 p.m.
WHS 5 10 11 8 — 34
EHS 18 11 9 7 — 41
WALLOWA — C. Nobles 20, G. Ramsden 5, S. Hilliard 4, B. Melville 3, A. Brockamp 2, A. Lindros, Z. Mallory, R. Hafer.
ECHO — D. Craig 14, M. Marcum 8, T. Mulder 7, K. Jensen 5, C. Medrano 4, Caldera 2, Z. Gehrke 1, N. Scott, B. MacPherson, R. Post.
3-pointers — WHS 0; EHS 1. Free throws — WHS 10-15; EHS 16-29. Fouls — WHS 19; EHS 15.
JOSEPH 57, HELIX 42 — At Baker City, the Grizzlies’ season came to an end on Thursday evening with a loss to the Joseph Eagles in the first round of the district tournament.
Information and statistics from the game were not available at press time. It was the final game for Helix’s (6-15) seven seniors, including leading scorer Justin Williams, plus Jonathan Shaw, Grant Christman, and Tylor Fehrenbacker, Jake Sprenger and Allan Holden.
Joseph plays No. 2 seed Nixyaawii today in the semifinals at 2:15 p.m.
COVE 36, ECHO 34 — At Baker City, a mid-range jumper with a little over a minute left to play gave Cove the winning edge on Thursday in the first round of the Old Oregon League district tournament at Baker High School.
“We had some really good looks at the end, but couldn’t capitalize,” said Echo coach Michael Swanson.
Taylor Swaggart led the Cougars (14-10) with 14 points and went 4-for-5 from three-point range while also leading the team with six steals. Marti Huff added 12 points, and Devyn Tarvin contributed four steals.
Despite the tough loss, Swanson said the Cougars (14-10) ended their season with heads held high.
“These girls have given me their heart and soul since the first game all the way through,” Swanson said. “They always give it everything they’ve got.”
Echo will lose four seniors to graduation — Tarvin, Hannah McCarty, Laci Wiggins and Bethanie Milbrodt.
Cove advanced to the district semifinals where it will play No. 1 seed Nixyaawii tonight at 6:30 p.m.
JOSEPH 56, HELIX 31 — At Baker City, the Grizzlies’ season came to a close on Thursday with their loss to Joseph in the first round at districts. Details were not available at press time.
Helix (9-13) will lose two players to graduation, Macey Tullis and Bethany Newtson.
Joseph plays No. 2 seed Powder Valley in the semifinals today at 1 p.m.