By Terry Aichele
For the Hermiston Herald
Breakfast at the boys 5A state tournament was good for the Hermiston Bulldogs Saturday morning. The team got a chance to chew up the North Eugene Highlanders 49-44 to take fourth place and a trophy. This is the first state level trophy for Hermiston boys basketball.
JJ Ross took the ball to the basket following the opening tip to put Hermiston on the scoreboard first.
The Highlanders took a 10-5 lead with about 1:53 to go in the first.
North Eugene came out strong at the start of the second, taking the lead out to 16-11. At about the 4:50 mark in the second, Luiz Ortiz hit a 3-pointer to pull the 'Dawgs to within two, 18-16.
Hermiston took the lead 22-20 when Sam Grogan grabbed a rebound and fed it to Luiz Ortiz who hit another 3 pointer. Ross capped off the half with a layup and the Bulldogs took at 24-20 lead into the locker room.
North Eugene tied the game at 24-24 early in the third, but Hermiston's Bryce Baldock hit a layup, was fouled by Conklin and sank the free throw which gave Hermiston the 27-24 lead.
A tip-in by Shane Kirkpatrick and a jump shot by Markus Baker gave the Highlanders the lead again at 28-27. The Bulldogs came roaring back with Ross and Baldock combining for six points to give Hermiston a 35-28 lead at the end of the third.
Hermiston never gave up the lead for the rest of the game, at one point stretching the lead to 10 at 45-35. North Eugene began fouling with about two minutes to go, pulling them closer but not enough to put the game in doubt.
When the final buzzer sounded the Hermiston Bulldogs won the game and the fourth-place trophy.
Hermiston controlled the shooting percentages in both halves. The 'Dawgs were very consistant, shooting 41.7 percent in the first half and 41.2 percent in the second. The Highlanders shot 38.9 and 32 percent, respectively.
JJ Ross lead all scorers with 18, Grogan had 10, Ortiz had 9, Baldock had 7 and Cody Humphrey had 3. Brian Conklin lead the Highlanders with 17 points.
Ross was named to the all tournament second team.