Baker City — How many times do you have to face someone in a season? If you are the Crane Mustangs, that would be four. Four times. Thursday afternoon brought the fourth and final round between the Mustangs of Crane and Mustangs of Jordan Valley, two Eastern Oregon rivals who are regularly battling at the top of the High Desert League. Crane won the previous three meetings, winning by an average of around ten points per meeting. In the final edition for the 2022 season, Crane reasserted themselves again with Jordan Valley, booking their trip to the 1A semifinals to face Country Christian.
Leslie Doman and Tayler Eiguren traded buckets in the opening minute, giving an early 2-2 game in Baker City. Not much scoring was generated in the opening quarter, but Crane seized the early advantage behind Alexia Ballard’s six first quarter points and led 8-4 after one quarter over Jordan Valley. Kortney Doman hit a trey to start the second, extending Crane’s lead to 11-4 over Jordan Valley. Doman got help from Dani Clark and Skye Miller a couple of minutes later, making it 16-5 Crane with 6:20 left in the half. Trailing 18-7, Jordan Valley got some scoring down the stretch in the half on a pair of Kelsey Gluch free throws and a trey from Jill Gammett, cutting the deficit to 18-12 with 3:02 left in the half. Crane would lead 20-14 at halftime over Jordan Valley, led by trio Alexia Ballard, Dani Clark, and Skye Miller. Jordan Valley was led Tayler Eiguren’s five points.
After a rather flat first half, the scoring got turned up higher in the second half, kicked off by Taylor Joyce’s trey extending Crane’s lead to 23-14. Jill Gammett punched back with a three-point play to bring the game back to 23-16 for Jordan Valley, but Joyce hit another trey to make it 26-16 Crane less than a minute into the third quarter. Jordan Valley sisters Tayler Eiguren and Meg Eiguren got back-to-back buckets later on, making it a 26-21 game with 5:30 left in the third quarter. However, Crane would answer again with Joyce and Kortney Doman, bringing the lead back out to 30-21 for the Mustangs. Maintaining a nine-point lead during most of the quarter, a bucket by Cassity Gluch got Jordan Valley back into a 34-27 game entering the fourth.
Crane got the lead back to ten points and milked about three minutes off the clock in the fourth, with Joyce and Doman’s points making it 37-27 Crane. Trailing 41-29 with 3:58 left, Tayler Eiguren got back-to-back treys and Jordan Valley found themselves back in the game 41-35 with Crane. However, the scoring would fizz out for Jordan Valley, as Crane put it away with free throws to advance to the 1A semifinals on Friday night against Country Christian. Taylor Joyce led Crane with ten points, Dani Clark had eight for Crane. Tayler Eiguren had a monster double-double for Jordan Valley, finishing with 17 points and 16 rebounds on the day for the Mustangs. Jordan Valley faces Nixyaawii in the consolation bracket on Friday morning.
Footnote: Header image is from John L. Braese/easternoregonsports.com