HEPPNER - After an early exit from the state tournament a year ago, the Heppner Mustangs came into this year's tournament with big goals and the talent to back them up.
But just making it to Pendleton isn't good enough.
"We're not done yet," coach Mark Dowdy said after their win over Central Linn in round one. "That's the attitude I have to take. We've got more stuff to do."
Dowdy said everything they've accomplished up to this point may as well have been last year.
"It's a new season right now and we've got stuff to do and we're not happy just to be there," he said.
Even though the Mustangs have been dominant at times throughout the regular season, Dowdy said there are still some questions to be answered in the tournament.
"You never know what you can do until you do it," he said. "My motivation was to keep them believing how good they were and how good they could be and how good they will be."
The Mustangs boast one of the most well-rounded squads in the tournament with a handful of players capable of going off on any given night.
"It's certainly a type of team that I would ideally like to have and I try to build because you need depth particularly at this stage of the game," Dowdy said.
Senior Regi Seitz gives the Mustangs a dangerous deep threat and also shows up big inside despite being just 5-foot, 9-inches. Junior Megan Orr shows great anticipation on defense and comes up with a lot of big steals that lead to easy buckets. Juniors Aftan Betsinger and Katie Kilkenny provide the inside muscle for the Mustangs and senior Lyndi Patton provides another deep threat and a non-stop motor.
When the Mustangs are firing on all cylinders they can beat anybody but even when they aren't they are bound to get big nights out of at least two of their starters.
They also have a very capable bench that should come in handy.
"Its really a gift for me to have so many players that I can put in," Dowdy said. "We have potentially three games in three days on that floor so our bench is going to play a much bigger role. Our bench is going to be an advantage for us, absolutely."
The Mustangs also have had a lot of experience pulling out close games this season, which can only help their chances.
Three of their 21 wins came in overtime and they had a huge fourth-quarter comeback over conference rival Weston-McEwen late in the season.