HERMISTON — There was a warm welcome for the Hermiston boys basketball team as the Bulldogs made their season debut at the Dawg House after spending the first week of the season weekend on the road. Its 69-60 win over Hanford (WA) capped off an exciting night at the school.
To open the night, the Bulldogs’ girls team faced the Falcons as well and earned their first win of the season. Hanford, a 4A school in Richland out of the Mid-Columbia Conference, will be a familiar face come next year when Hermiston joins the WIAA and the Bulldogs (1-3) gave them something to remember on Tuesday.
The 55-38 victory was Hermiston’s for the taking as it got out to an early lead thanks to an 11-2 run to start the first quarter.
The Bulldogs were coming off of a tough weekend of competition were they showed their potential but just couldn’t execute. This time around, head coach Juan Rodriguez was happy the outcome supported the girls’ effort.
“After this weekend and the way we played — we played really well this weekend and we just couldn’t pull it off,” he said after the game. “I thought the girls came out with lots of energy tonight and we just got a kick start right away.”
Helping with that start was senior Hannah Thompson, who returned to the court after nursing a knee injury. She notched nine points, the second most for the Bulldogs, and helped the young team gain confidence once shots started falling.
“She’s just experience,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously she’s a good shooter when she’s confident but not only that, she gives us depth.”
Something that hurt the Bulldogs over the weekend was Rodriguez had to dig deep into his bench and start girls with little playing time in order to rest the starters. With Thompson back, he was able to rotate in players like junior Sydney Stefani — who started in the place of Thompson.
“It kind of changes the strategy quite a bit,” Rodriguez added.
The Bulldogs’ up tempo play against the Falcons (2-2) caught them off guard, and it also opened up room for mistake on Hermiston’s end. Luckily, Hanford was unable to capitalize on those mistakes.
After a number of Bulldog turnovers in the first half, the Falcons left points on the board from missed shots and a strong defensive effort.
“Defensively, I thought we were solid for most of the game,” Rodriguez said, “and then we just have lapses and (Hanford) couldn’t capitalize and that’s the conversation we had, that (we) needed to clean some of those things up.”
Sophomore Jazlyn Romero had another standout night, as she led all scorers with 15 points. She was near perfect from the charity strike, missing only one of six free throw attempts. Romero was also the driving force in Hermiston’s 17-point second and third quarter.
The Bulldogs were able to hit the locker room at the half with a 31-17 lead after Thompson sank to 3-pointers to cap off a 12-7 run. Hanford was forced to call a timeout after Romero layed the ball in to extend Hermiston’s lead to 31-12.
The Falcons chipped away at the lead and cut their deficit down to 31-17 before halftime.
“(The message was) not to settle,” Rodriguez said of the talk at the break.
And the Bulldogs didn’t. Hermiston kept its lead to 14 or more points throughout the entire second half with senior Maddy Juul and Romero leading the charge. Juul matched Thompson’s nine points after 32 minutes of play.
The win gives the Bulldogs much needed momentum against a tough Chiawana team. The next OSAA-WIAA match up will bring the 2-1 Riverhawks to town for a 5:45 tipoff on Friday.
The boys will have also have a hard time against the Chiwana Riverhawks on Friday but with another win under their belt, it will make preparation a little sweeter.
The Bulldogs (2-2) played their first game in front of a home crowd Tuesday night, and they did not disappoint.
Sophomore Ryne Andreason and junior Cesar Ortiz led Hermiston on its way to a 69-60 win scoring 24 and 23 points, respectively.
Ortiz got things going in the first half after making four of the Bulldogs’ five 3-pointers. Andreason took his chances from beyond the arc in the second half where his first three shots where all 3’s.
Their combined efforts on offense made the defensive match up against the previously undefeated Falcons (1-3) a little easier.
“On the defensive end and everything seems better — it’s easier to play defense when you’re hitting shots on offense or getting out and running, you know defense creating offense,” head coach Casey Arstein said.
But in the same breath, he also stressed the importance of playing good defense and not depending on hot shooters.
Over the weekend at Wilsonville, Hermiston’s breakdowns came in the second half. On Tuesday, the Bulldogs came out to play a strong third quarter but Hanford began to creep up on them after Hermiston defense relaxed a little too much.
“It started with (Hanford) getting some offensive rebounds and us not stopping the ball in transition, stuff we need to work on,” Arstein said. “It’s fixable.”
The Bulldogs opened the game commanding an 11-0 lead before Hanford was final able to get points on the board halfway through the first quarter. A couple of Falcon turnovers moved Hermiston’s lead to 18-6 before Hanford began to find its rhythm.
The Falcons never took the lead, but were able to tie things up in the second quarter after a 8-0 run finished off with a 3-pointer from junior Connor Woodward. He was the top scorer for Hanford and was its only player to finish in double-digits with 18 points.
Woodward, with the help of fellow junior Jard DeVine, were the most threaten in the final eight minutes when Hanford was able to cut Hermiston’s 16-point lead down to only a nine point loss.
“I would have like to play a little bit better there in the fourth quarter,” Arstein said. “I was a little frustrated — a little frustrated with myself, a little frustrated with our rebounding but that’s going to happen. We’re only on game four, so we’ve got a long ways.”
Arstein and company have a little more time to prepare for Chiawana and will use the next two days to clean up some of the little things before taking on the 0-4 Riverhawks.
Don’t let their record fool you. One of Hermiston’s weaknesses lie in its size, and Chiawana will have that advantage.
“They are definitely going to be bigger and stronger kids — I don’t know if they are going to be way better basketball players but they’re definitely going to have a lot more size than Hanford,” Arstein said.
Tipoff will is schedule for 7:30 p.m.
HERMISTON 14 17 17 7 - 55
HANFORD 5 12 11 10 - 38
HERMISTON — J. Romero 15, J. Thomas 9, H. Thompson, M. Juul 9, R. Meyers 5, M. Wilson 5, A. Green 3.
HANFORD — M. Mars 9, T. Kison 8, H. Coleman 7, J. Burt 4, T. Sijgers 4, J. Snow 3, E. Beattie 2, S. Ellis 1.
3-pointers — HAN. 3, HERM. 7. Free throws — HAN. 9-10, HERM. 6-12. Fouls — HAN. 12, HERM. 13.
HERMISTON 19 17 17 16 - 69
HANFORD 14 12 16 18 - 60
HERMISTON — R. Andreason 24, C. Ortiz 23, J. Ramirez 6, A. Mendez 6, P. Wicks 5, A. Earl 3, C. Smith 2
HANFORD — C. Woodward 18, B. VanderTop 9, J. DeVine 9, L. Sutey 6, D. Izquierdo 6, G. Horner 5, D. Gosney 5, C. Milliken 2
3-pointers — HAN. 6, HERM. 9. Free throws — HAN. 8-11, HERM. 10-23. Fouls — HAN. 20, HERM. 14.
Contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.