HERMISTON — Davis may have brought the height that Hermiston lacked, but little did they know they would be no match for two of the Dawgs’ smallest players.
Sophomore Katelyn Heideman, a 5-foot, 4-inch guard, and junior Makaylee Young, a 5-5 guard, each poured in a game-high 16 points to help Hermiston take down the Pirates 77-51 in their nonleague season opener at home. Although the Pirates boast four players that stand at 6-foot or taller, there was nothing they could do to stop the Hermiston duo from pushing the Bulldogs out front early.
“With their height, they had a disadvantage,” Young said of Davis. “We were able to block them out. We came out with straight fire tonight.”
Heideman opened play with a 3-pointer not 40 seconds into the first quarter. From there, Young hit back-to-back treys, and Heideman sunk one more of her own at the five-minute mark to put the Bulldogs ahead 14-2.
Heideman hit one more 3-pointer, and junior guard Jayden Ray knocked down a bucket in the final seconds of the quarter to keep Hermiston up 25-12 at the buzzer.
“They were confident,” Hermiston head coach Maloree Moss said of Heideman and Young. “They were ready to shoot the ball. They’ve practiced and practiced. They’re just dedicated girls. They work hard, and that showed tonight.”
The Bulldogs started the second quarter with a seven-point run, including another trey from Young, to put them up 34-16. Sophomore guard Mia Hernandez also sunk a bucket from outside the paint at 3:59 as the Dawgs cruised to a 46-23 lead at the half.
“We came out with energy,” Young said. “We were hitting shots like no one’s business.”
Pirates freshman post Shaela Greggs scored a basket and two points at the line to chip away at the deficit and bring Davis within 18 points of the Bulldogs in the third quarter, and a five-point streak in the quarter’s final two minutes pulled them within just 15 points. But Hermiston strung together five points in response, including a basket at the buzzer from sophomore forward Alexis Kessell, to keep the Dawgs ahead 61-42.
“The biggest thing is, we can’t get complacent,” Moss said. “We’re going to have to stay hungry. It comes down to working on ball pressure and communication. Our communication picked back up again in the fourth quarter.”
Kessell broadened Hermiston’s advantage back out to 20 points with a free throw to open the final eight minutes, foreshadowing a quarter where 11 points were scored at the line. Heideman was 4-for-4 in her free throws for the quarter, and Kessell returned to knocked down one final shot in the paint with just 32 seconds remaining as the Bulldogs opened their season with victory.
“We’re complete opposite teams,” Moss said. “We’re much smaller than they are. We got hot. It’s not going to happen every game, but our girls work hard. They did great tonight.”
Kessell followed Heideman and Young in scoring with 12 points on the night, and Ray had 11. Pirates freshman guard Nevaeh Patterson and senior post Lochlyn Hoberg led Davis with 10 points each.
“One of our biggest keys to winning is to come out as a unit and play together as a family,” Young said. “We did that tonight.”
Hermiston (1-0) travels to Sunnyside on Saturday.