Traveling over seven hours by bus and into Mountain Standard Time, 14th ranked Elkton lost to 3rd ranked Jordan Valley 48-38 last Saturday in the second round of the state basketball playoffs. With the victory, the Mustangs punched their ticket to Baker City for the 1A quarterfinals.
But in the first round last Wednesday, the Elks travelled to Alsea where they defeated the Wolverines 50-44.
It was the third time the two sides had met this season with Elkton winning both of the December contests. But for Elkton, they were trying to not dwell on their past victories.
“We know everybody improves and last time we played them was clear in December. We knew they were going to better, hopefully we’re better. And playing on their homecourt, that makes a difference, too. So we knew it was going to be tough,” said Elkton head coach Rob Parker after the victory.
In the opening quarter it was both teams trying to work their full-court press to their advantage as the game turned into a race up and down the court.
“The first quarter, there’s a lot of excitement. Everyone’s up, everyone’s ready to go. And it kind of got a little chaotic at times,” said Elkton junior Kieryn Carnes. “We just wanted to make sure we were settling in and getting into the game and playing what we know how to do. But first quarter was crazy, it was like calm down!”
The Elks led throughout the first half, but the Wolverines took their first, and only, lead of the game to start the second half. But helping Elkton calm down was the steady shooting presence of Aspyn Luzier. Luzier, who hit four threes in the second half, finished the game with six made three-pointers and 20 points.
“We’re always looking for her. Most teams try to take her out of the game and they were there, they had a player on her pretty good but when they went to a zone for a little bit– the zone wasn’t picking her up all the time,” said Parker. “Anytime she can catch, set and shoot, I mean, she probably shoots 80 percent.”
As turnovers plagued Elkton throughout the second half, Alsea never quite went away and were on the verge of a comeback before a pair of Luzier three-pointers took the air out of the building and helped the visiting Elks seal the win.
“She’s a great, great shooter,” said Alsea head coach Ricki Hendrix. The Alsea defensive game plan was to lock onto Luzier across the court but after hitting a near NBA-range three in the first half, the Wolverine defense was stunned by her range. “[One of my players] came out and said, ‘I definitely underestimated how far back she can shoot for,’” said Hendrix.
Carnes finished the game with 10 points for Elkton.