PENDLETON — Earlier in the season against Pilot Rock and its skilled senior class, Stanfield had fallen by as many as 29 points and as few as 22
But on Saturday at the Pendleton Convention Center, the Tigers (12-15 overall, 3-5 CBC) stayed with the Rockets (18-6, 8-0) until their athleticism and high level of play was too much to keep up with, running to a 56-41 victory.
In the Columbia Basin District Tournament final, the efforts of Stanfield could not go unnoticed. The Tigers were the clear underdog, but managed to hang with the best in ways they couldn’t earlier in the year.
For head coach David Bailey, the game showed the team’s growth and maturity.
“We have played them three times this year and they killed us the first three times,” he said, “but to come out and play that tough half and only be down by five at half — they were down on themselves and they were only down by five against a team that had been up on us by 20.”
Pilot Rock maintained the early lead it built in the first quarter throughout the entire game, but the Tigers would remain within striking distance until the third quarter.
A couple of opening 3-pointers and a short 5-0 run from Stanfield at the end of the first quarter cut its deficit to only two possessions.
Sloppy play in the second quarter led to a low scoring affair on both sides before the break. The Rockets stayed in control and were up 24-19.
The teams combined for 25 turnovers in the first half, and were only shooting, at best, 29 percent from the field. The Tigers had better looks at the basket than the Rockets throughout the first two quarters — shooting 7-of-24 and knocking down three of their five three-point attempts. Their 29 percent exceeded the Rockets’ efforts, which fell to only 25 percent.
All either team needed was a big play, and for Pilot Rock that is just what it got.
“The big play and the big player that set us apart this game was Logan Weinke, (who) decided to shoot the ball in that third quarter,” head coach Eric Smidt said.
In the third quarter, the Rockets outscored the Tigers 17-3 and with the help of Logan Weinke, who was able to spread Stanfield’s defense out with his 4-for-6 second half shooting, Pilot Rock was able to ride out its lead.
Helping Stanfield stay in the game was senior Brody Woods, who finished with a team-best 12 points and a double-double after collecting 12 rebounds. Elias Esquivel chipped in 10.
Leading Pilot Rock was Pierce with 19 points, and a double-double of his own after grabbing 10 boards. Chris Weinke added 12 points, and both Lankford and Thieme notched eight.
Brett Speed, Weston-McEwen, sr.; Bryson Pierce, Pilot Rock, sr.; Brody Woods, Stanfield, sr.; Trent Smit, Heppner, sr.; Chris Wienke, Pilot Rock, sr.
Kevin Smith, Heppner, sr.; Weston Basl, Culver, sr.; Levi Thieme, Pilot Rock, sr.; Elias Esquivel, Stanfield, jr.; Kevin Rodriguez, Weston-McEwen, sr.; Wyatt Steagal, Heppner, sr.
Andrew Gambill, Weston-McEwen, jr.; Matt Krueger, Culver, sr.; Riley Lankford, Pilot Rock, sr.; Jacob Speed, Weston-McEwen, sr.; Eduardo Nunez, Stanfield, jr.
SHS 11 8 3 19 — 41
PR 15 9 17 15 — 56
STANFIELD — B. Woods 14, E. Esquivel 10, H. Hernandez 9, B. Bailey 4, F. Ramirez 3, M. Sanchez 1.
PILOT ROCK — B. Pierce 19, C. Weinke 12, L. Weinke 9, R. Lankford 8, L. Thieme 8.
3-pointers — SHS 4, PR 3. Free throws — SHS 3-6, PR 15-26. Fouls — SHS 16 (Woods fouled out), PR 12.