The final score might not show it, but Hermiston made Kennewick earn its win Friday night.
The Bulldogs were within seven points of the Lions three times in the fourth quarter, but Kennewick scored the final 12 points of the game for a 58-39 Mid-Columbia Conference win at the Dawg House.
“My frustration all season, was I was waiting for that energy and excitement to play,” Hermiston coach Juan Rodriguez said of his team. “That atmosphere in that stretch is why you play high school basketball. I was happy with that aspect. We need to make sure we are playing 32 minutes that way.”
The Lions (10-3 overall), who got a game-high 18 points from 6-foot-2 freshman Alexis Stein, improved to 7-2 in league play with the win.
After Hermiston’s Jayden Ray opened the game with a basket, Kennewick’s MeiLani McBee hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Reilyn Davis added another as the Lions led 9-2 less than 3 minutes into the game.
The Bulldogs (5-8, 3-6) got a basket and two free throws from Mati Byrd to pull within 15-11, only to have Maya Thornton drain a 3 from the right baseline to extend the lead to 18-11 at the end of the quarter.
The Lions held the Bulldogs to six points in the second quarter, as they enjoyed a 29-17 lead at the half.
Kennewick’s lead ballooned to 16 points in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs scored the final six points of the quarter — including five by Kendall Dowdy — to pull within 41-31 with one quarter to play.
Hermiston had cut the deficit to under 10 points with 5:12 to play, but point guard Jazlyn Romero fouled out. She was soon followed by 6-4 post player Jordan Thomas.
The Lions scored eight of their final points from the free-throw line, and Stein put an exclamation point on the win with a basket with 14 seconds left on the clock.
Romero and Sydney Stefani led the Bulldogs with seven points each.
Hermiston vs. Chiawana
Hermiston played an even game against Chiawana on Saturday, except for the first quarter.
The Riverhawks outscored the Bulldogs 11-4 in the opening quarter, and then held on for a 50-41 Mid-Columbia Conference win in Pasco.
Each team scored 26 points in the second half, but the first quarter haunted the Bulldogs all game.
The Riverhawks also scored 20 points off turnovers, and scored 27 points from the 3-point line.
Hermiston (5-9 overall, 3-7 MCC) got 17 points from Jordan Thomas, and 10 points and 15 rebounds from Jazlyn Romero. Hermiston outrebounded Chiawana 43-28.
Chiawana (10-4, 9-1) was led by Macey Morales with 15 points, while Alyssa Agundis added 11 points.
Hermiston vs. Walla Walla
After dropping its past three games, Hermiston got back on the winning track last Tuesday night.
Jordan Thomas scored a game-high 18 points, and Jazlyn Romero added 11 as the Bulldogs cruised past Walla Walla 41-28 in Mid-Columbia Conference action at the Dawg House.
“We are right in the middle of the season and any win is an accomplishment,” Hermiston coach Juan Rodriguez said. “I thought the mentality was there to finish the game. When they made a run, we handled it and got a basket when we need it.”
Romero hit a pair of 3-pointers as the Bulldogs (5-7 overall, 3-5 MCC) took a 13-4 lead.
The Blue Devils (3-8, 3-5), who have lost six games in a row, slowed Hermiston down in the second quarter, allowing just seven points. The Blue Devils then took off on a 14-11 run in the third quarter, keyed by a five points by Monica Miller and four by Mia Huxoll.
“They were undersized and we struggled to get the ball to Jordan at times, and that hurt us,” Rodriguez said.
Hermiston outscored Wa-Hi 10-5 in the fourth to seal the win.
The Bulldogs did struggle at the free-throw line, making just 6 of 16 attempts (38 percent).
Peyton Bergevin led the Blue Devils with 10 points.