ATHENA — The Weston-McEwen girls basketball team goes into each game with a plan to push the tempo against its opponent with the idea of forcing bad decisions that lead to easy offense. That plan was a big reason for Weston-McEwen’s five-game win streak that it rode into Thursday evening’s game with Grant Union.
Except in that game, the talented Prospectors, currently ranked No. 5 in Class 2A, used that against them. Grant Union’s full-court press defense helped force 32 TigerScot turnovers which fed an ultra-efficient offense that broke the 90-point barrier for the third time this season in a 92-54 victory over the TigerScots.
The Prospectors (8-2) had five players finish in double figures for the game, with Kaylee Wright leading the way with 23 points and Madison McKrola finishing with 22 points. Grant Union shot 56 percent from the field for the game (36-of-64).
“They were just better than us,” Weston-McEwen coach Mike Giusti said, “and I think everybody understands that. They’re (Grant Union) very athletic and simply take advantage of that. There were just too many times offensively where we broke down because they rushed us.”
Chelsea Quaempts led the TigerScots (6-6) with 18 points, with 10 of those coming from the free throw line. Jordyn Lambert followed with 10 points and Katie Vescio had eight points. The TigerScots shot a paltry 28 percent (19-of-67) from the floor, including a multitude of close-range shots that just didn’t seem to bounce favorably on Thursday.
“We haven’t been the best shooting team,” Giusti said, “but again we were just rushed all game. We rushed everything on offense tonight.”
Weston-McEwen scored the first points of the game on an elbow jumper by Trinity Hearn just 15 seconds in for a 2-0 lead, which was the only lead the TigerScots would hold for the entire game. Grant Union took the lead back one minute later on a 3-pointer by Mariah Moulton as the Prospectors then went on a 17-2 run over the next five minutes of game time to take complete control of the game and coast to the victory.
Weston-McEwen now has two more non-league games remaining before league play begins, first up at home with Imbler on Saturday. Giusti said when his team hits the floor for practice on Friday, they’ll work heavily on decision-making.
“I think we’ll be okay,” he said. “We’ll learn how to fight through it and learn how to make more under control decisions when the other team tries to speed you up. It’s hard to simulate in practice, so tonight was a good learning experience.”
GRANT UNION 66, WESTON-MCEWEN 51 — The 2017-18 season has been a struggle for the Weston-McEwen TigerScots.
A playoff team one year ago, the TigerScots’ depth was hit hard by graduating seniors such as Shaw Broncheau, Ethan Reger, and Garrett Hungerford, causing the TigerScots to stumble through their non-league schedule with a lineup full of inexperienced varsity players outside of seniors Brett Speed and Jacob Speed.
Thursday night Weston-McEwen showed some glimpses of their potential on Thursday night against Grant Union, battling well with a top-15 team in Class 2A. However the TigerScots just didn’t have enough firepower on both ends of the floor as the Prospectors left town with a 66-51 victory.
Brett Speed led the TigerScots (3-10) with 17 points with eight rebounds, Jacob Speed added 10 points and Blair Rudolph finished with eight points with a pair of made 3-pointers. Weston-McEwen coach Brian Pickard said he’s slowly seeing the progression out of some of those newcomers.
“We’re starting to get some guys to step up,” Weston-McEwen coach Brian Pickard said. “Kevin Rodriguez ... he’s starting to contribute points, Gavin Smith’s getting there, Blair Rudolph, we’re getting there. I think we really have to sure things up at the defensive end of the floor right now. Right now we’re just playing a lot of zone because we don’t play very good man-to-man and we have to work at it.”
Like the girls before them, the TigerScots scored the first points of the game on a corner 3-pointer from Brett Speed 25 seconds into the game for a 3-0 lead, the only time they would hold a lead. Grant Union took the lead back 4-3 with 6:30 left and finished the quarter 19-8 to give themselves a 12-point cushion at the end of the quarter.
However in the second quarter, the TigerScots fought back. Their defense forced some turnovers and led to some transition baskets, which helped the TigerScots get within five points at 28-23 with 3:40 left and kept them within eight points of the Prospectors at halftime. The tenacity continued early in the third quarter to keep the TigerScots close, but they just could not cash in on opportunities. Three straight possessions the TigerScots had man advantages in transition and came away with zero points, instead with one turnover and two missed lay-ins.
“That’s something that’s plagued us all year,” Pickard said. “We miss easy shots and then it seems like the other team always turns around and hits a couple of threes or a few lay-ins and we can’t recover from it, which happened again.”
Instead of the TigerScots creeping closer, the Prospectors took off and outscored the TigerScots 19-6 in the third quarter and kept a considerable cushion for the remainder of the game. Duane Stokes led the Prospectors with 18 points and Wade Reimers added 15 points.
“It’s like a broken record but we’re definitely getting better,” Pickard added. “We just have to do some simple things better and make baskets. This was a pretty good team we faced tonight and I thought we were right there with them for awhile.
“Now we have a week to figure this out until we play Heppner to start league.”
GU 22 27 22 25 — 92
W-M 9 15 16 14 — 54
GRANT UNION — K. Wright 23, M. McKrola 22, M. Moulton 14, H. Wright 11, W. McClellan 10, T. Hutchison 8, M. Wright 2, M. Smith 2.
WESTON-MCEWEN — C. Quaempts 18, J. Lambert 10, K. Vescio 8, T. Burke 7, T. Hearn 6, C. Davis 3, H. McIntyre 2.
3-pointers — GU 4, W-M 0. Free throws — GU 16-23, W-M 16-24. Fouls — GU 18, W-M 17.
GU 23 12 19 12 — 66
W-M 11 16 6 17 — 51
GRANT UNION — D. Stokes 18, W. Reimers 15, K. Shelley 9, Z. Deiter 8, T. McDaniel 6, C. Weaver 6, C. Deiter 4.
WESTON-MCEWEN — B. Speed 17, J. Speed 10, B. Rudolph 8, G. Smith 6, P. Munck 4, K. Rodriguez 4, A. Gambill 1.
3-pointers — GU 3, W-M 4. Free throws — GU 11-16, W-M 12-17. Fouls — GU 17, W-M 12.
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