Heppner last took home the title 33 years ago in a state championship game against Corbett at the Pendleton Armory in 1986.
Proving that history often repeats itself, the Mustangs won by one point, 51-50. Coached by Mike Royer, who now helms the Irrigon girls’ varsity team, the championship capped off a 23-1 season.
“That was an exceptional team,” said Royer. “We were one of the favorites going into that ‘86 season. It was a really exciting time for Heppner and the girls.”
The title was the first ever for the Heppner girls’ basketball program. Royer said he listened to last weekend’s championship game on the radio, and couldn’t help but be reminded of that same game 33 years ago.
“It was the same situation – it went down to the wire,” he said. “It was close for four quarters.”
Last Saturday, the Mustangs strung together a seven-point run in the fourth quarter to pull ahead and win the title for the second time in school history.
Similarly, Royer recalled that Corbett had the last shot to win it, but missed to give Heppner the trophy back in ‘86.
“You can teach that determination all day long, but you have to have girls that are willing to do it,” said coach Robert Wilson.
“They never gave up. A lot of teams get down by double digits, get sucked into the moment, and crumble, but they never did.”