It may have taken them a quarter to get going, but once they did, there was no stopping the Mustangs.
On Thursday night, the Heppner girls broke away from Oakland’s grasp in the second quarter to run away with the 2A quarterfinals, 48-39.
“When we play hard and as a team, good things will happen,” said coach Robert Wilson. “It comes down to all the little things that we do as a team that helps us compete with these state-qualifying teams.”
Oakers senior Hadley Brooksby knocked down two straight buckets in the first quarter to claim the lead before Heppner senior Jacee Currin and sophomore Madison Ashbeck scored a basket each to take the game back.
Oakers senior Cassidy Jones would knot the score again twice, and Brooksby returned with another basket to keep Oakland ahead 9-7 at the end of the quarter.
“We saw Oakland play last year, and had a pretty good idea of the abilities of their returning girls,” Wilson said. “They’re a great team. We knew what No. 11 (Brooksby) could do.”
Heppner senior Madison Combe and sophomore Syndey Wilson quickly remedied their team’s deficit in quarter two, combining for six points to put the Mustangs out front again.
The Oakers didn’t manage a score until 4:47, after which Sydney Wilson sunk four more points, and knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:41 left in the half before the Mustangs took a 22-15 advantage into the locker room.
“Sydney’s fearless, and it showed tonight,” coach Wilson said. “She’s aggressive on offense, and that helps the others get good looks at the net.”
Sydney Wilson and Currin took care of 12 of Heppner’s 14 points in the third quarter, and the Oakers were held away from the net for nearly 4 1/2 minutes.
Oakland pulled together just seven points before the end of the quarter, five of which came from junior Gabby Parnell.
“Our coach told us to slow down and keep the pace of the game,” Syndey Wilson said. “They got tired, and we came out hot. We held them off.”
A trey from Brooksby at 3:59 in the final quarter pulled the Oakers within 10 points of Heppner, and she would do it again at the line with just 1:01 left to go.
Oakers senior Grace Witten wrapped the game up with a 3-pointer to chip their deficit to just nine, but Heppner held them off in the final seconds to punch their ticket to the semifinals.
“We were expecting a tough game from Oakland,” said Syndey Wilson, who led the Mustangs with 21 points, eight rebounds, and four steals. “We knew we’d have to match their intensity if we wanted to win, and we did that tonight.”
Currin posted 15 points, eight rebounds, and six assists for Heppner (20-8, 9-4 BMC). Combe added seven points and five rebounds. The Oakers got 14 points from Brooksby.
The Mustangs will challenge Enterprise tonight at the Pendleton Convention Center in a semifinals contest. Tip-off is at 8:15 p.m.