Pioneer boys stumble against La Grande

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LA GRANDE, Ore. - Mac-Hi started at a near standstill here Tuesday night and finished in nearly the same fashion as La Grande bullied the Pioneers 75-29 in a boys Greater Oregon League basketball game with postseason implications.

The Tigers, who officially locked up third place and the GOL's final playoff berth with the victory, stormed to a 19-1 lead after one quarter of play. And they closed out the game by outscoring the Pioneers 21-4 in the final period.

It was potent retribution for a La Grande team that outscored Mac-Hi 49-35 Jan. 25 in Milton-Freewater but forfeited the victory to the Pioneers because the Tigers used an ineligible player.

That forfeit could have cost the Tigers third place in the final league standings had they lost on Tuesday. Even though La Grande defeated Mac-Hi 51-37 when the teams met for the first time here Jan. 7, Mac-Hi would have won the season series from the Tigers two-games-to-one with a victory in Tuesday's rubber match.

La Grande now holds that advantage and a one-game edge over Mac-Hi in the GOL standings going into Friday night's regular-season finales. The Tigers, 2-6 in the GOL and 4-19 overall, entertain Ontario (5-3, 7-16) while Mac-Hi (1-7, 4-16) closes out at home against Baker (8-0, 18-3).

"We didn't weather the storm very well," first-year Mac-Hi coach Sean Oliver said of his team's first-quarter plight. "We did kind of pull it together in the second quarter. By the fourth quarter, I was playing most of my younger guys just to give them some experience, and I thought they did well considering."

La Grande outscored Mac-Hi 17-4 in the second period for a 36-15 lead and pushed its advantage to 54-25 going into the game's final eight minutes.

Eyler Aldrich, the Tigers' 6-foot-8 post, scored 18 points, eight of them in the second period, to lead the La Grande offense.

"He was a lot to handle down low," Oliver said. "We didn't have anyone who could match his size and strength."

Mac-Hi center Derek Richwine did his best, Oliver said, and finished with 11 points to pace the Pioneers on offense.

"Derek is about 6-5," Oliver said. "But weight-wise, it just wasn't a good matchup for us."

Loran Ackerman tallied 12 points for the Tigers and Tanner Ortov, who made all three of La Grande's 3-point baskets, was also in double figures with 11 points. Dallas Stone added nine points.

Ricky Angel sank a pair of 3-pointers and just missed double figures for Mac-Hi with a nine-point game.

Oliver said the atmosphere in the La Grande gym Tuesday was a challenge for his players.

"It was loud," the coach said. "Drums, fans yelling and screaming, we kind of had that deer-in-the-headlights look. A lot of our boys don't have that level of varsity experience."

MAC-HI (29) - Corona 1 1-2 3, S. Ortiz 0 0-0 0, Hadden 0 0-0 0, Field 0 0-0 0, Shuler 1 0-0 2, O. Flores 2 0-0 4, A. Ortiz 0 0-0 0, Richwine 5 1-2 11, Angel 2 3-3 9, Hernandez 0 0-0 0, Sandoval 0 0-0 0, S. Flores 0 0-2 0. Totals 11 5-9 29.

LA GRANDE (75) - Ortov 4 0-0 11, Madsen 0 0-0 0, Safe 1 2-2 4, Wicklordu 2 2-3 6, Haynes 0 0-0 0, Walker 2 0-0 4, Ackerman 6 0-0 12, Miller 1 0-0 2, Motrey 0 0-0 0, Goss 1 1-1 3, Stone 4 1-4 9, Rogers 1 0-0 2, Aldrich 8 2-2 18, Jenkins 2 0-0 4. Totals 32 8-12 75.

Mac-Hi 1 14 10 4 - 29

La Grande 19 17 18 21 - 75

3-point goals - Mac-Hi (Angel 2), La Grande (Ortov 3). Total fouls - La Grande 15, Mac-Hi 12. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - La Grande (Wicklordu).

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