The Stanfield Tigers boys headed into the Christmas break with a 1-1 Blue Mountain Conference record with a 56-37 loss to Heppner on Saturday.
Heppner sprinted out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter and kept the Tigers away from the net for more than four minutes until Stanfield juniors Mario Sanchez and Rene Sanchez combined for four straight points. Senior Elias Esquivel scored another basket with 1:30 left in the quarter, but Heppner sunk two more of their own for a 14-6 lead at the buzzer.
Sanchez hit a 3-pointer to open the second quarter as the Tigers steadily chipped away at the deficit. When Stanfield was down 20-17, junior Rafael Orozco missed a 3-pointer that could have tied it up. The Mustangs hit five straight points to ensure a 25-20 halftime lead.
Esquivel kept the Tigers alive with a 3-pointer with 4:40 left to play in the third, tying the game 30-30. But Heppner senior Hunter Nichols scored two treys, two at the line, and two from the field to broaden their lead.
“We got in our groove in the second half,” said Nichols, a 5-foot-8 point guard. “We moved and shot the ball well, and played better on both sides.”
Senior Tyler Carter led the Mustangs with 15 points, and Nichols had 14. Esquivel sunk 17 for the Tigers.
The loss came for Stanfield after a 57-42 league-opening victory on Friday at Pilot Rock.
“We came in with a chip on our shoulder and just said ‘You know what? We got this,’” said Stanfield senior Elias Esquivel, who led the Tigers with 17 points, after Friday’s win. “This league is tough, but we can compete. I think we proved that against Pilot Rock tonight.”
Sanchez, Nunez, and senior Hugo Hernandez followed Esquivel in scoring with nine points each on Friday. Waggoner led the Rockets with 11.
Heppner (2-0, 7-5) will compete in the Irrigon Invite on Thursday, Dec. 27. Stanfield (1-1, 4-8) will host Weston-McEwen on Friday, Jan. 4.
The Heppner girls fought through a first quarter deficit to take home their first league victory of the season, downing Stanfield 55-38 for a Saturday road win.
“This was the first complete game that we played as a team,” said Mustangs coach Robert Wilson. “Everyone played hard. Our rebounding was especially good today — that’s always been an area of opportunity for us.”
Tigers junior Kendra Hart helped Stanfield out to an 8-1 lead in under five minutes to force a Heppner timeout. The Mustangs came out of the break to score 14 points over Stanfield’s six, including a 3-pointer from senior Jacee Currin at the buzzer to put Heppner ahead for good, 15-13.
Sydney Wilson posted 18 points for Heppner (1-1, 7-5). Hart had 14 for Stanfield (1-1, 6-6).
“Sydney is a gym rat. She loves basketball,” coach Wilson said. “She has a great understanding of the game.”
“We knew Stanfield would be a challenge,” said Wilson, a point guard. “But we got used to ‘em. It feels great to have that confidence after our first league win. We know that we can keep pushing ourselves even further.”
Stanfield opened league play on Friday with a 65-49 win at Pilot Rock.
“We started hitting better shots and transitions,” said Tigers coach Daniel Sharp after Friday’s game. “We played some good defense for about a quarter and a half to spread the gap a little bit.”
Tejada led Stanfield with 19 points, and Hart followed with 18. Grace Austin posted 15 points for the Rockets, and Breann Baleztena scored 12.