At 6-foot-1, Hermiston’s Adrian Mendez is not your typical post player, but he gets the job done.
Mendez had six of his game-high 22 points in overtime Friday night as Hermiston beat Pasco 71-61 in Mid-Columbia Conference play at the Dawg House.
“I’ve been playing post ever since I started playing in sixth grade,” Mendez said. “I’ve been grinding ever since.”
It may not have been pretty, but the Bulldogs also improved to 3-0 in MCC play.
“We could have played a lot better,” Hermiston coach Casey Arstein said. “But it’s a W, and we’ll take it. Adrian is a smart guy and he sees the floor well. He’s got pretty good hands as well.”
Pasco (0-6, 0-3), which is still looking for its first win, struggled at the start of the game, but outscored Hermiston 35-25 in the second half to force overtime.
“We have to play 32 minutes,” Pasco coach Adam Berg said. “We didn’t get off to the start we wanted. We are capable, we just have to relay that to them. Hermiston is a good team, but I don’t think they played their best game against us.”
Hermiston had a good start, but its shooting went cold in the third and fourth quarters, allowing Pasco to sneak back into the game.
Pasco pulled within 44-40 at the end of the third quarter, using a 20-14 run.
Nicholas Gutierrez drained a 3-pointer at 3:08 of the fourth quarter to give Pasco its first lead at 50-49. It would be its only lead.
Ryne Andreason converted a 3-point play for a 52-50 Hermiston lead, and Cesar Ortiz did the same 12 seconds later for a 55-50 lead.
Diego Gutierrez hit a basket with 57 seconds left in regulation, and then hit a 3 with 33 seconds left to tie the score and force overtime.
“We have got to be able to play four quarters,” Arstein said. “We had them burned in the first and second quarters. We have to be more consistent with the ball in our hands. We were up 15 and they take the lead.”
Andrew James opened overtime with a 3-pointer from the right wing, and Mendez grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball in the basket for a 60-57 lead.
Jordan Ramirez, who scored a season-high 15 points, hit four free throws in the final 34 seconds to help Hermiston secure the win.
“Our shooting got a little cold, and our defense slacked off,” Mendez said. “We didn’t know who we were guarding. It’s nice to be 5-0.”
Hermiston jumped out to an 11-0 lead with 2:23 remaining in the first quarter, and Pasco never scored until Nicholas Gutierrez hit a pair of free throws with 1:55 left.
Hermiston led 13-6 after the first quarter, and 30-20 at the half, getting a pair of 3-pointers from Ortiz, who finished with 14 points.
“Cesar had some big rebounds,” Arstein said, “but we didn’t shoot that well.”
Nicholas Gutierrez led Pasco with 19 points, while Diego Gutierrez added 18 points, including four 3-pointers.
HERMISTON 71, DAVIS 52: In their best start in more than 20 years, Hermiston moved to 6-0 on the season with a 71-52 nonleague win Saturday over Davis in Yakima.
“Even though it was our third game in a week, the guys came out with great energy,” coach Casey Arstein said. “Davis has solid guards who are very aggressive and tough, and we had a few too many turnovers, but I’m happy with any kind of road win.”
Hermiston led in each quarter, jumping out to a 14-8 lead at the end of the first, and outscoring Davis 22-12 in the third. Ryne Andreason scored a game-high 28 points for the Bulldogs, while Jordan Ramirez added 16 and Cesar Ortiz 11.
Despite going undefeated this far into the season, Arstein still sees room to improve.
“This is the best start we’ve had in my three years as head coach,” he said. “But every team we play in the WIAA has talent — we gotta get better and keep it rolling.”