By Ramonda Thompson
for the Burns Times-Herald

The Crane Mustangs celebrate their High Desert League title. (Photo by BARBARA MAHER)

The Crane Mustangs boys varsity basketball team took one more step to the State 1A Tournament, winning the High Desert League District Tournament held in John Day Feb. 16-18.

Crane defeated Dayville-Monument (D/M) in the district championship game Saturday night, 69-47. The boys now have home advantage in the playoff rounds, with one game between them and the final eight bracket Baker City. As the No. 1 team from District 8, Crane will play this Saturday, Feb. 25, at Crane. They play the winner of the Wednesday, Feb. 22, match-up between Powers and Rogue Valley Adventist.

The Mustangs started off their District Champion run with a 69-21 win over the Spray Eagles.

Crane took a 28-9 first quarter lead and then shut down the Eagles over the next 16 minutes, giving up no points in the second quarter, and only two to start the third. Their own offense lit up the scoreboard for 30 points, and Crane started the final period up 58-11.

All nine players saw minutes in the game, and the younger players finished the last quarter-and-a-half for the Mustangs.

Crane was led by Nic Nyman’s 22 points, Ryan Opie with 15, and Cole Maupin 11. Nyman and Nick Witzel led the Mustang’s with seven rebounds each.

1     2    3    4  Final
Cra    28   13  17   11   69
Spr     9     0    2   10    21
Crane continued on their winning streak, downing Adrian, 66-30, in Friday night’s semifinal matchup.

The Mustangs’ pressure defense caused the Antelopes to turn the ball over, and Crane capitalized with points off the turnovers. Levi Miller hit the basket to score the first Mustang points in quarters one and two, and Crane was up 29-12 at the half.

Miller sank a 3-pointer to start the third quarter, and Tyler Opie got hot from the floor and charity stripe, and the Mustangs led 54-22 going into the last quarter.

The Mustang bench came in and kept up the defensive pressure over the final minutes of the game. R. Opie had 22 points, Miller 14, and T. Opie 11. T. Opie grabbed eight boards for Crane.

1     2    3    4  Final
Cra    17   12  25  12   66
Adr    6     6   11   7    30
The Dayville-Monument Tigers gave the Mustangs their closest contest, sticking within 12 points for three quarters of the game. But Crane was not to be denied, and brought home the championship board and trophy with a 69-47 final score.

Crane controlled the tip-off, but the first quarter they had trouble getting their shots to fall, and the Tigers were up 9-4 early. Then R. Opie hit Nyman for a driving basket, Maupin went two-for-two from the line, and two more Nyman baskets gave Crane a 13-9 first quarter lead. The Mustangs never gave up the lead the rest of the game.

But Crane did not take D/M for granted, as the Tigers were getting inside position and drawing fouls. Crane countered by slowing the game down, working the ball around for shots, and getting scores on almost every possession. Although Nyman fouled out, the four other starters stayed in for almost the entire game, except for the last four seconds. In the final quarter, the Mustangs had their largest point output to seal the game.

R. Opie finished the game with 25 points, Nyman and T. Opie with 12 each and Maupin 11. R. Opie and T. Opie had nine rebounds each.

1     2    3    4  Final
Cra    13   19  16   21    69
D/M     9   12  15   11    47

Three Mustangs also received All-Tournament Team honors. R. Opie and Nyman were named to the first team and Miller was named to the second team.

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