HERMISTON — For the first two years of Maddy Juul’s Hermiston career, beating the Pendleton Buckaroos on the basketball court was a given, never a toss-up.

However, over Juul’s next two seasons the two programs effectively changed places in the league standing. The Buckaroos won back-to-back conference championships and won four of the last five games against the Bulldogs — including three straight dating back to last season — going into last week’s regular-season finale between the two rivals.

That’s why it was such a rewarding feeling for Juul and the rest of Hermiston’s five seniors as the Bulldogs were able to end their skid to the Buckaroos with a 43-36 victory at The Dawg House on Feb. 20.

“Oh it feels so good,” Juul said, grinning from ear-to-ear. “To go out on top is the best feeling ... We just went into this game knowing there was no way we were going to let Pendleton beat us three times, so that thought in the back of our heads the whole game allowed us to be determined all four quarters.”

Though the Bulldogs (11-13 overall, 7-2 Columbia River Conference) were winless against the Buckaroos (17-7, 8-1) this season, both previous games were winnable for the Dawgs as the outcomes weren’t decided until within the final minute. Last week’s game played out the same way for both sides, as the Bulldogs didn’t clinch the win until within the final 20 seconds.

Jazlyn Romero led the Bulldogs with 16 points and senior Hannah Thompson added 11 points. The Bulldogs shot 13-of-50 (26 percent) for the game and were 14-of-29 from the free throw line.

Hermiston’s five seniors were recognized prior to the start of the game. The five girls — Juul, Thompson, Regan Meyers, Alyssa Green and Hannah Earl — have been playing together since they were in fifth grade, and have given a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to the Bulldogs program in the last four years.

After the game, Rodriguez couldn’t say enough about the quality of the five seniors.

“I have five seniors that have been together since fifth grade. Some of them don’t get a lot of playing time, Hannah (Thompson) and Maddy (Juul) get the most, but the other girls are great teammates and when they do come in they do their job and there’s nothing more that I can ask.

“Alyssa didn’t get in tonight, but man, she was loud on the bench cheering. Regan gave me good minutes when Jordan (Thomas) was in foul trouble, and I could go on ... I’m just so happy we can send those seniors off with a win in our last game in the CRC.”

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