Vale’s John Wolfe (No. 4 in white) puts up a shot while JP Friedrichsen tries for the block Saturday night. Burns defeated the Vikings, 59-51. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

VALE – Truston Snapp poured in 22 points and teammate Dakota Ceja added 19 to help Burns defeat Vale 59-51 Saturday night in an Eastern Oregon League boys prep basketball game.

Burns (5-5) held off a late-game comeback bid by the Vikings (4-6) to claim the victory.

The loss, though, doesn’t automatically bounce the Vikings from post-season play. Vale will face Riverside (4-6) Wednesday night in Vale in a district play-in game. Winner of the game advances to the district tournament in La Grande at Eastern Oregon University Thursday. 

The Wednesday play-in game is at 5 p.m. No passes will be accepted and the cost is $6 for adults and $4 for students.

Inconsistency haunted the Vikings Saturday night but the real name to their pain was Ceja.

“We had no answer for that kid,” said Vale coach Colby Shira. “He just torched us. We couldn’t stay in front of him.”

Ceja’s athleticism proved decisive and Vale’s attempts to put him on ice translated into foul trouble for key starters late in the game. By the tail end of the final stanza three of Vale’s starters fouled out, mostly due to trying to stop Ceja. 

Starting Viking forward Kade Kurata was also knocked out late in the game with an injured ankle.

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 “We were down to the last guy on the bench,” said Shira.

Brayden Gregory led the Vikings with 17 points and John Wolfe added 10. 

The Vikings put together two good quarters – the second and fourth – but couldn’t get tracked during crucial stretches of the contest. Vale closed to within 47-40 with 4:52 to go but pulled no closer. 

“Offensively we were just very inconsistent but it really didn’t matter because we couldn’t defend,” said Shira. 

The Vikings held a 23-22 lead at intermission but Burns effectively took the game over – behind Ceja – in the second half.

“We threw every defense we could think of to slow them down but I don’t think any one defense stopped them,” said Shira. “You can’t play two bad quarters and two good quarters and expect to win.”

Shira, though, said Monday he wasn’t focused on Saturday night but was focused on the Wednesday game against Riverside.

“Hopefully we can play a lot more competitive against Riverside and hopefully punch our ticket into the (district) tournament,” said Shira.

Vale beat Riverside twice during the regular season but Shira said that doesn’t matter now.

“It is hard to beat any team once let alone twice. They have a lot of talent,” said Shira.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected] or 541-473-3377. 

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