Kailey McGourty (No. 41) sends a pass toward a teammate against Umatilla in a game earlier this season. McGourty scored nine points against Burns Saturday in the Eastern Oregon League district title game at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. (The Enterprise/File)
LA GRANDE – Great rivalries personify prep sports and the competition between the Burns and Vale varsity girls basketball teams is fast becoming epic.
The Vikings defeated Burns twice during the regular season but Saturday in La Grande the Hilanders posted a 34-32 win to claim the district title and a first-round playoff home game.
“It was back and forth. Our kids gave all they had. One or two things don’t go your way in a game that close, that’s it,” said Vale coach Jason Johnson.
Burns (21-5) will host Santiam Christian (18-7) while Vale (16-8) will go on the road to play Oregon Episcopal (19-3) in Portland. Both games are Friday. Tip off for Vale is 6 p.m. Pacific time. Burns plays Santiam Christian at 5 p.m. Pacific time.
Burns and Vale were evenly matched, said Johnson.
“When you play each other that much, you know each other and you know what they are going to do before they do it and it is just a struggle,” said Johnson.
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Kailey McGourty and Emersyn Johnson each scored nine points to lead the Vikings while Matyson Siddoway had seven.
“We played great defense. They (Burns) had other kids who stepped up and found a way to get it done,” said Johnson.
Vale defeated Burns 36-32 Jan. 16 and handed the Hilanders a 35-29 loss Feb. 15 on the way to a 10-0 league mark.
“One thing you find, as the teams get better, it is hard to get open,” said Johnson.
Johnson said the rivalry between the two teams probably won’t fade away soon.
“Most of their good players are coming back and most of our good players are coming back,” said Johnson.
Johnson said neither team offered up anything new in terms of offense or defense. It was, he said, just a battle.
“We did what we talked about doing. Things just went their way at the end,” said Johnson.
Johnson said Oregon Episcopal won’t be an easy pick for the Lady VIkings.
“Oregon Episcopal is quite good. But I think our kids travel fairly well. It is going to be a good game,” said Johnson.
In Class 1A hoop action last weekend in John Day, the Jordan Valley boys and girls varsity basketball teams moved into post-season competition while the season is over for Adrian.
The Mustang girls (7-1) will enter the playoffs against Powder Valley (9-2) Tuesday, with results too late for press time.
The Mustang boys (7-2) were to face Joseph (9-3) Wednesday at Enterprise High School.
The Mustang boys and girls both rank third in their league, with the girls ranked 11th overall and the boys 26th in state.
The Joseph boys rank second in the Old Oregon League and ninth overall. Meanwhile, Powder Valley girls rank second in that league and 14th overall.
The Adrian boys varsity ended their season with back-to-back losses at the High Desert League district tournament in John Day last weekend.
The Antelopes dropped games to Prairie City and Jordan Valley. They end their season 5-4 .
The Adrian girls varsity basketball team lost to Crane and Jordan Valley in John Day and conclude the season with a 5-3 league record.
The Four Rivers girls varsity lost to Prairie City Feb. 20 and ended the season with a 3-5 mark.
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