Only one team would emerge 3-0 in the Blue Mountain Conference after Saturday. The other would leave with their first league loss.
In the end, the Heppner boys pulled away in the second quarter to down host Weston-McEwen 48-33.
“We knew it was going to be extremely tough,” said Mustangs coach Jeremy Rosenbalm. “They (Weston-McEwen) were going to come out with fire after their Stanfield win on Friday (the TigerScots beat Stanfield 62-47 on the road). It was going to be a dog fight.”
The TigerScots held the lead for the opening four minutes before Heppner hit eight unanswered points to close the first quarter 10-6. The Mustangs then went on a 10-point run in the second quarter to leave the TigerScots behind for good.
“I challenged my team on defense, and they accepted it,” Rosenbalm said. “We really ramped it up. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Senior Trent Smith sparked Heppner’s second quarter rally. The 5-foot-8 shooting guard hit six straight points to put the Mustangs out of reach. Heppner would go on to score 10 more points and allow only eight for a 28-14 halftime advantage.
“We did decent offensively, but we have good bigs that helped us with our blocks and rebounds,” said Smith, who led Heppner with 16 points.
Despite the loss, Saturday’s game was kind to TigerScots junior Stockton Hoffman, who contributed 22 of his team’s 33 points for the night. Hoffman scored all 10 of Weston-McEwen’s points in the third quarter.
Heppner (3-0, 9-6) hosts Enterprise on Friday. Weston-McEwen (2-1, 4-10) will travel to Pilot Rock.
“I’m feeling pretty confident,” Smith said. “I’m hoping to go 2-0 at our home gym next week.”
It may have taken awhile, but the Mustangs took control of the second half to turn away Weston-McEwen on the road 72-56 on Saturday.
The TigerScots took a lead in the first quarter before Heppner found its footing. The two teams spent the first two quarters trading dominance before going into the locker room tied at 29-29.
“We expected (Weston-McEwen) would be aggressive on offense,” said Mustangs coach Robert Wilson. “We let them control the tempo in the first half, but we turned up our defensive pressure and made them work for their points in the second.”
The two teams were tied at 33-33 in the third quarter before Mustangs senior guard Jacee Currin and sophomore forward Sydney Wilson each found the net to take the lead for the last time.
“We knew we started out slow,” said Currin, who sank 24 points for the night. “We just needed to bring that fire to finally pull away.”
Heppner closed the third quarter with a 10-point run and added 22 more points over Weston-McEwen’s 15 in the fourth to stay up front.
Senior guard Katie Vescio scored 22 points for the TigerScots (0-3, 5-9), and Wilson had 26 for the Mustangs (2-1, 10-5).
“Weston-McEwen is a really friendly team, and Katie really knows how to work with her team and play to their strengths,” Currin said. “It was a good win for us tonight.”