ATHENA — Weston-McEwen could never really gain any separation from the Enterprise Outlaws on Saturday. Each TigerScots basket was met with an echo on the Outlaws’ end.
Close game? No matter, said TigerScots point guard Jacob Ramirez.
The Weston-McEwen boys held off a late charge from Enterprise, dodging a 3-point bullet in the final seconds to earn their first Blue Mountain Conference victory of the season in a 54-51 contest in Athena.
Neither team led by more than six points, that coming from the Outlaws just after halftime. But the TigerScots (5-2, 1-1 BMC) whittled into the Enterprise (3-4, 0-2 BMC) lead by the start of the fourth quarter and when Calvin Thacker sunk a 3-pointer 10 seconds into the frame, Weston-McEwen took away the Outlaw lead for good.
Enterprise would tie the game three times before the final buzzer but never lead again.
The final tie, a 49-49 deadlock, lasted only 20 seconds. Following a Cody Duquette Enterprise shot to knot the game up with three minutes remaining, Ramirez sunk the game winner from outside. His 3-pointer, coupled with some Lance Thacker free throws down the stretch, locked up the victory.
Both boys finished with 15 points.
The TigerScots could count themselves lucky they weren’t on the other side of the last-second desperation push. Enterprise out-rebounded the home team by a dozen boards, and grabbed 16 on the offensive end. Had it not been for pesky Weston-McEwen defenders and their 17 steals — part of a 25-turnover debacle for the Outlaws — this game’s final score could well have been reversed.
“The whole game, both teams made just an enormous amount of grade-school mistakes,” Enterprise coach Steve Lear said. “It wasn’t their pressure, it was our bad. The cross-court passes rather than making the 10- to 12-foot pass, then cut and move and get some motion going on. We didn’t do that. We tried to get the whole banana all at once and you just can’t do that.”
Weston-McEwen’s mistakes — outside of its troubles boxing out under the hoop — were largely foul based. When starters Ramirez and Nick Pease picked up their fourth fouls each, coach Brian Pickard was forced to send the boys to the bench or risk losing them for the game with another foul.
But instead of wilting in the face of new adversity, the TigerScots put together some of their best strings late with players like Kolten Youncs filling in the lineup.
“Kolten Youncs coming off the bench when we got in that foul trouble, I thought he did a fantastic job,” Pickard said. “He picked up some good rebounds, had a couple buckets for us. ... I thought that was probably the biggest two and a half or three minutes of the game when he came in when Nick got his fourth foul.”
Youncs scored four points with three rebounds in secondary duty while Pease rested up for the final minute.
Pease finished with eight points but only three rebounds. Thackers Calvin and Lance were team co-leaders with five apiece.
Damon Greenshields led Enterprise in nearly all statistically categories. He had 15 points, 17 rebounds and two steals.
The Outlaws as a team had only three steals, though — or two fewer than Ramirez had by himself for Weston-McEwen. The TigerScots’ defense kept Ramirez and his teammates from being drawn into the nail-biter too much, he said, always focusing on the next possession.
“If you get beat, you want to turn around and get a steal,” he said. “You turn around and go to the next passing lane available.”
Weston-McEwen continues league play next week with games at Heppner on Friday and back at home against Elgin on Saturday.
The TigerScots are hoping their most recent win helps pull the momentum back headed in their favor. After four wins to open the season, two straight losses followed before the Enterprise matchup.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 966-0839.