Hermiston made sure it held Connor Woodward in check Friday night, but Hanford in turn used its entire arsenal of weapons to sneak past the Bulldogs in Mid-Columbia Conference action.
The Falcons used a 19-7 run in the fourth quarter to overcome a six-point deficit to start the fourth quarter and post a 58-52 victory over the Bulldogs (12-5, 8-5 MCC) at the Dawg House.
“We didn’t finish plays, knock down free throws and get crucial stops,” Hermiston coach Casey Arstein said. “At times we stopped Woodward, but guys would get free in the paint. We held him better than last time.”
Woodward had 31 points the first time around, but had just 16 Friday to lead the Falcons (8-10, 6-8 MCC).
“That was a really good game,” Hanford coach Paul Mayer said. “It was a great environment and a lot of energy. Everybody is hounding him (Woodward). I’m proud of the guys for stepping up and getting things done. Conner Milliken and Blake VanderTop came off the bench and did good things for us.”
Hermiston led 45-39 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Falcons scored three quick baskets to tie the score.
Cole Smith hit a big 3-pointer for the Bulldogs with 4:02 to play, and they led 50-47 with 3:15 remaining.
Luke Sutey hit a free-throw line jumper to pull the Falcons within a point, and a pair of free throws by Dan Izquierdo gave Hanford the lead for good with 1:55 to play.
The Bulldogs were 0 for 4 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, and they shot a dismal 3 for 13 for the game.
“It wasn’t the smartest game we played,” Arstein said. “We kind of gave it to them. We had plenty of chances and the guys played hard. We didn’t shoot the ball well, which is something you can’t always control.”
Both teams looked good at the start of the game, exchanging 3-pointers. A deep ball by Cesar Ortiz gave the Bulldogs an 11-6 lead, and Hermiston stretched the lead to 16-10 before Hanford hit some free throws to make it 16-13.
The teams were tied at 20-20 and 22-22 in the second quarter, but baskets by Ryne Andreason, Jordan Ramirez and Adrian Mendez gave the Bulldogs a 28-25 lead at the half.
Hermiston twice led by seven points in the third quarter, and led by six heading into the fourth.
Ramirez led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while Ortiz had 12 and Andreason eight.
“I thought our defense was good,” Mayer said. “We really wanted to defend No. 1 (Andreason), and Blake VanderTop’s defense on him was awesome.”
Hermiston at Richland
Hermiston coach Casey Arstein didn’t mince words Saturday night. His team did not get the job done defensively against Richland, and it paid dearly.
The Bombers had three players score 20 or more points, and they shot 80 percent from the free-throw line, to cruise to a 96-57 Mid-Columbia Conference victory over the Bulldogs in Richland.
“Defensively, that was one of the worst games I have had to watch,” Arstein said. “I know Richland is good offensively, but we didn’t help ourselves out. We let them get too many transition baskets. We got our butts kicked.”
Richland (17-2 overall, 15-0 MCC) clinched its seventh consecutive MCC title, and have won 36 consecutive MCC games dating to a Jan. 14, 2017, loss to Kamiakin.
“I thought we shared the ball really well,” Richland coach Earl Streufert said. “We have been working hard the last couple of weeks making adjustments. We had three with 20 or more and the ball moved all night.”
Cole Northrop scored nine of his 20 points in the first quarter, seven of which were free throws, as the Bombers raced out to a 27-14 lead.
Hermiston’s only lead of the game was 2-1 with a basket by Cesar Ortiz. From there, the Bombers drained three 3-pointers and made 12 of 14 free throws.
The Bulldogs (12-6, 8-6) held their own in the second quarter, with Cole Smith coming off the bench to chip in six points, but they could not make a dent in the deficit from the first quarter.
“I thought offensively, our guys attacked the rim,” Arstein said. “Ryne (Andreason) went to the rim hard. Offensively, we were in attack mode, but you have to defend and make them earn every basket.”
The third quarter got out of hand, and the Bombers led by 30 at one point — 73-43. Andreason hit a pair of free throws as the Bulldogs trailed 73-45 at the end of the quarter.
In the fourth, Jacob Kreutz hit a pair of baskets to give the Bombers a 41-point lead with 3:52 to play.
Hermiston went on a 5-0 run to make it 91-54, but the Bombers just kept coming. Kirby Robertson had the last word with a basket with just 9 seconds remaining.
Hermiston got 15 points from Andreason, 12 from Jordan Ramirez and 11 from Smith.
Dhaunye Guice led the Bombers with 22 points, while Cody Sanderson had 21.