ATHENA - It was the same script but a different ending than the Weston-McEwen TigerScots have become accustomed to.
Once again they fell behind early and made a late charge, but couldn't quite there as Umatilla moved into a first-place tie with Weston-McEwen following Friday's 72-65 Vikings' Columbia Basin Conference boys basketball win.
The first half was all Umatilla, as the Vikings used a 22-7 second-quarter edge to jump out to a 36-16 halftime lead. The Vikings led 51-30 midway through the third quarter when the TigerScots began to make their run.
A 21-9 Weston-McEwen run pulled the TigerScots within eight, only to see Umatilla reel off five consecutive points to push the lead back up to 13 with four minutes left. The TigerScots stormed back with nine straight points and several minutes later had a chance to tie, but T.J. Parrish's off-balance 3-pointer wouldn't fall.
The Vikings (16-1, 6-1 CBC) converted 4 of 5 free throws in the final minute to preserve the win.
"They played four quarters and we played two quarters," TigerScots coach Scott Pumphrey said. "We dug ourselves too big of a hole and got in a little bit of foul trouble in the first half. We had a few mental breakdowns here and there, didn't know what we were supposed to be doing or where we were supposed to be and credit Umatilla. They took advantage of that and put us away."
The Vikings had their inside game working in the first half, as post players Brian Littrell and Tony Villanueva Jr. combined for 28 of Umatilla's 36 points.
"The first half we couldn't do anything wrong," Vikings coach Tony Villanueva said. "We got the ball inside like we're supposed to do. When we do what we're supposed to do with the ball offensively we're going to be tough."
Helping the Vikings' cause was their outside shooting. Daniel Adams drained a pair of 3-pointers in the first half and Villanueva added another one, which kept the TigerScots from packing their defense inside the key.
"We shot the ball real well from the outside," Coach Villanueva said. "Daniel did a great job for us."
Littrell led the Vikings with 29 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, while Villanueva finished with 26 points and 18 rebounds. Adams and Chris Wyland finished with 10 rebounds apiece as the Vikings enjoyed a 53-28 advantage on the boards.
Parrish led the TigerScots with 18 points, 16 of which came in the second half, and many of those came on steals and layups at the other end, prompting Coach Villanueva to laud the defensive efforts of Chris Wyland.
"Chris is by far the best defensive player in this league," Coach Villanueva said. "There's no question about it. That's his job and he does it great."
For the TigerScots (12-4, 6-1) the loss brings an end a number of consecutive close victories in conference play, something they knew couldn't last forever.
"We've kind of known that if we kept playing those close games it would come back and bite us," Pumphrey said. "It's just too bad that it happened tonight."
With the season halfway over both teams are in control of their own destiny, which is right where they want to be.
"We've always felt we should be in this position," Coach Villanueva said. "We felt the Wahtonka loss should not have happened."
The Vikings host the rematch with Wahtonka today, while the TigerScots travel to Sherman County and Pumphrey said his team needs to rebound and take care of business against the Huskies.
"We're tied for the league lead," he said. "We've put ourselves in a position where we can be league champions at the end of the season. It's a tough loss but we'll battle back."
Weston-Mc 6-1 12-4
Umatilla 6-1 16-1
Heppner 4-3 11-6
Pilot Rock 4-3 10-5
Sherman Co. 2-4 7-7
Wahtonka 2-5 3-12
Culver 1-5 5-9
Stanfield 2-5 6-11