Vale’s Tanner Hamilton fights through two Hilander defenders as he goes for a basket during a league game Saturday in Vale. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

VALE – Cade Tiller hit a 3-point jump shot with 39 seconds to go to help lift Burns past Vale 55-51 in an Eastern Oregon League game Saturday night.

Tiller’s crucial jumper came at the end of a tight game where the Vikings fought off a third-quarter rally by the Hilanders only to come up short in the end.

“It was a tough game to lose. That was a must-win game for us so it is very unfortunate,” said Colby Shira, Vale boys coach.

Vale’s Kade Haueter put in a virtuoso performance, scoring 25 points while teammate Tanner Hamilton scored 14. 

For long stretches Saturday night, Burns and Vale fought through a tight game. The contest was tied after the first quarter and 18-18 at halftime

“I thought we could have played faster in the first half. It was a pretty slow half of basketball,” said Shira.

Both teams generated scoring binges in the third quarter but Burns got momentum late in the fourth.

“Defensively we just couldn’t seem to get enough stops,” said Shira.  

Burns was down 49-46 with 2:28 left to play then the Hilanders tied the game 51-51 with just over a minute left. Tiller’s 3-pointer sealed the victory.

“We competed very well in the second half. We just couldn’t defend very well down the stretch,” said Shira. 

Tiller paced the Hilanders with 16 points.

Vale (1-6) mathematically isn’t out of the postseason picture but the Vikings will need a lot of help from other teams in the league, said Shira.

“So many things have to go right for us to even tie for third,” said Shira.

Vale will face Riverside Friday and then take on Umatilla Saturday. Both games will be in Vale. 

Tuesday, Feb. 5, the Vikings will meet Ontario in Ontario. 

The order of the games will be different then usual as the boys varsity will start at 6:30 p.m. and the girls varsity game will kick off at 8 p.m.