ATHENA — The gymnasium at Weston-McEwen High will host a re-enactment of last season’s Blue Mountain Conference tournament final on Saturday when Weston-McEwen and Heppner get together. And it very well may be a preview of this year’s tournament, too.
The TigerScots (11-3, 4-0 BMC) and Mustangs (14-3, 4-1 BMC) have risen above the pack through the first half of the season and the first week and change of league matches. The first- and second-place squads will face off Saturday at noon in Athena for an early grasp on that top seed come tournament time.
The TigerScots are winners of their last six matches while elevating to the sixth spot in the Class 2A state rankings. Weston-McEwen has only lost one set in that period while taking out the Blue Mountain’s third and fourth teams Union (7-4, 3-1 BMC) and Grant Union (8-3, 3-2 BMC).
The TigerScots downed Grant Union and Irrigon
(5-5, 2-3 BMC) over the weekend to remain unbeaten against league opponents.
One of Weston-McEwen’s losses in the preseason came against Dufur at the Heppner Tournament on Sept. 8. The TigerScots never held the court at the same time as the Mustangs though, and Saturday will be the schools’ first head-to-head meeting this year.
Heppner, the No. 1 team in the state, had been cruising along before a three-way duel at home with Enterprise and Union. The Mustangs took care of the Outlaws simply enough in straight sets for their 12th win in 13 matches, but Union pulled out a shocker by handing Heppner its first BMC loss.
The Bobcats rolled in straight sets.
Dowdy called that match “a wake-up call early in the season” that has her Mustangs refocused and gearing up for a stretch run, the same kind that they pulled off in 2011. Heppner won seven straight matches to close out the season last year, including beating the top two seeds in the Blue Mountain District Tournament in Pilot Rock to take the conference championship.
The regular season champs and No. 1 seed in that tournament? The Weston-McEwen TigerScots.
“I’d say we probably remember that but we’re trying to focus on now,” Weston-McEwen coach Shawn White said. “You can’t take anything back. We pretty much have a single-minded focus on what we want to do. No one gives us points for our past accomplishments.”
The Mustangs and TigerScots were each given No. 2 seeds in the state bracket that year. Heppner finished fifth in the state while Weston-McEwen suffered straight losses to miss out on a state trophy.
Heppner returned much of its strengths from that team with only three seniors graduated. And five new seniors have filled in those gaps, giving this year’s team plenty of experienced leaders.
Weston-McEwen is running a little younger than that. Libero McKayla Carlin is the only senior on this team, which lost four seniors that included the conference’s player of the year Morgan Entze.
While Heppner/Weston-McEwen is the marquee matchup Saturday, the teams will share the court with Pilot Rock as part of a three-way. The Rockets (2-9, 1-4 BMC) will try and play spoilers in their matches, hoping to swoop in under the radar.
Before the main event on Saturday, the ’Stangs and ’Scots will first have mid-week hurdles to handle. Heppner will break from league play for a feisty Class 1A Condon/Wheeler (7-2, 2-0 Big Sky Conference) today, the same evening that Weston-McEwen travels to Enterprise (5-6, 2-3 BMC).
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or 541-966-0839.