By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Many basketball coaches will tell you that the best offense is a strong defense. And defense is what Jordan Valley thrives on.
The Mustangs won their first boys state basketball championship since 1977 by defeating Days Creek in the title game at the OSAA-U.S. Bank Class 1A tournament Saturday at Baker High School.
Jordan Valley built a big early lead then relied on its stingy defense to defeat Days Creek 63-48 in a matchup of last years second- and third-place teams. Days Creek lost in the title game for the second straight year.
Jordan Valley coach Skeeter Duby said his Mustangs did what they were supposed to do on the defensive end of the floor.
Thats what we preach all the time defense, he said while accepting congratulations for his first state title as coach of the Mustangs.
I thought these kids stepped it up all week, Duby said. I thought the last two nights, the kids really stepped up their play.
Jordan Valley had dispatched last years champion Dufur in Fridays semifinals.
Duby said getting the win was exciting, but it was still all a blur.
This is my first one, and I dont think it still has sunk in yet, he said as his players whisked him away to join the celebration of cutting down the victory net.
Jordan Valley built an early 12-6 lead in the first quarter. Tim Wood and Jeff Anderson fired home a pair of three-point baskets, Mark Freese and Tim Uhalde added two-pointers, and Bobby Grenke had a pair of free throws in the run.
Days Creeks only points during that time came on two three-point baskets by Jimmer Hunt.
Days Creek cut the deficit to 13-10 on four straight points by Jared Dunn. But Jordan Valley answered with baskets by Freese and Anderson to lead 17-10 after one quarter.
Two early baskets by Anderson helped the Mustangs increase their lead to 10 points, 21-11, with 6:09 left in the first half.
The teams traded scores the rest of the quarter with Jordan Valley taking a 28-19 lead into the halftime locker room.
The Mustangs then put the game away with a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter.
Grenke got the ball rolling with a three-point basket. He added another three, and Anderson added four points as the Mustangs went up 38-21 with 3:36 left in the third quarter.
Dunn then scored seven points, and Hunt four, as Days Creek made a bid to cut into Jordan Valleys lead. Jordan Valley led 42-32 entering the fourth period.
Days Creek stayed within eight or nine points early in the fourth quarter before a 6-0 Jordan Valley spurt ended any hopes of a comeback.
Leading 52-43 with 2:30 left in the game, Wood canned two baskets and Uhalde one to build the lead to 15 points.
Anderson led three Mustangs in double figures with 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists and four steals.
Wood added 12 points, and Grenke 11 points and four steals.
Dunn topped Days Creek with 25 points and eight rebounds. Ten of Dunns points came in the fourth quarter.
Hunt added 13 points and four assists.
Jordan Valley forced 18 Days Creek turnovers and added 16 steals.
The championship was the first fir the Mustangs since 1977 when Jordan Valley defeated Arlington 68-48 in the title game.
Days Creek (48) Nixon 1-3 0-0 2, Hilderbrand 1-1 2-2 4, Lockward 1-5 0-0 2, Dunn 10-13 2-2 25, Hunt 5-23 1-2 13, Tobben 1-4 0-0 2, Whetzel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-49 5-6 48.
Jordan Valley (63) Wood 4-7 3-4 12, Grenke 3-6 2-3 11, Anderson 7-13 0-0 15, Freese 3-7 0-2 6, T. Uhalde 2-10 4-6 8, G. Uhalde 3-5 0-0 6, T. Lequerica 0-1 0-0 0, S. Lequerica 2-6 0-0 5. Totals 24-55 9-15 63.
Days Creek 10 9 13 16 48
Jordan Valley 17 11 14 21 63
Three-point goals Dunn 3, Hunt 2, Wood, Grenke 3, Anderson, S. Lequerica. Fouled out Hilderbrand. Total fouls Days Creek 17, Jordan Valley 11. Technicals none.