Hermiston knew this season would be tough with just one returning varsity player, and the Bulldogs are starting to realize the problems they will have in the Mid-Columbia Conference this year.
Chiawana used its experience and depth Tuesday night to hand the visiting Bulldogs an 83-44 loss.
“You are 100 percent right about that,” Hermiston coach Drew Preuninger said of his team’s inexperience. “It was tough. We knew they were strong and aggressive. It was a wake-up call. Tonight, we really didn’t compete.”
Chiawana’s Connor Mendez led four players in double figures with 18 points — 11 of which came in the first half.
“Both teams shot the ball well in the first half,” Riverhawks coach Chad Herron said. “They run some great stuff and play really good basketball, but we were a bit more effective.”
The Riverhawks (5-0, 2-0 MCC) raced out to a 17-5 lead in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 22-14 at the end of the quarter as Ivan Rangel drilled a 3-pointer from the right baseline.
Rangel led the Bulldogs (2-4, 1-2 MCC) with 20 points and eight rebounds.
In the second, the Riverhawks went on a 7-0 run midway through, and by the half, had opened up a 50-28 lead.
“I have an experienced group and he has a young group,” Herron said. “It makes a difference.”
Another big quarter by the Riverhawks gave them a 74-41 lead at the end of three. Taylor Perez had seven points in the quarter for Chiawana.
With the game out of reach, Herron played his second string a good portion of the fourth quarter.
“I hope our guys learn from them,” Preuninger said of Chiawana. “They are doing good things here. We shot 3s pretty well, but the pace of the game was quick. For us to be successful, we need to slow the pace. We can’t keep up with that.”
The Bulldogs also had a hard time matching the Riverhawks’ size inside, and on the perimeter.
“Their guards were the same size as ours, but 10 to 20 pounds heavier,” Preuninger said. “They manhandle their space.”
Jaiden Ruloph added 14 points, including four 3-pointers for Hermiston, while Sergio Madrigal had five points and five rebounds.
For Chiawana, Perez finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Jayden Martinez had 14 points, and Seth Schmidt eight points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.