HERMISTON — Four years ago, Ryne Andreason was playing on an AAU team and not yet walking the halls of Hermiston High.
A week ago Tuesday, his 3-pointer put the Bulldogs up one possession over the visiting Pendleton Buckaroos with mere seconds left in the Columbia River Conference title game.
The play and that shot was what Andreason has spent the better part of 10 years working on, and it all paid off when Hermiston was claimed CRC championship for the first time in four years.
“It’s what we’ve been working hard for our entire lives,” Andreason said. “We’ve been watching these high school games since first grade, it’s just, it’s amazing. It really is.”
At the Dawg House, Hermiston knocked off the three-time CRC champions 50-46. But like most of their games as of late, the Bulldogs’ win didn’t come without some nail biting moments.
After Hermiston held a narrow 24-21 lead at the half, Pendleton looked to reliable shooters in Shaw Jerome and Tyler Newsom to chip away at the deficit.
By the end of the third, the Buckaroos (14-10 overall, 6-3 CRC) were up 35-34 after holding Hermiston to its lowest offensive output (10 points) of the four quarters played.
There were two ties and one lead change to open the fourth, and after nearly three full minutes of the score being tied at 39-39, Newsom hit a three from the left corner to put Pendleton up 39-42.
The Bulldogs (12-11, 7-2) then saw themselves down by two possessions after Willie Camp banked a pair of free throws with 1:30 left to play.
Camp, Pendleton’s sleeping giant, came alive in the final regular season game. He finished the game with 14 points, only two behind a team best from Newsom, and was key in giving the Bucks some momentum before the break despite being trailing by three points.
Up 45-44, the one-point lead would have assured Hermiston a victory but in an effort to stop the clock and with the hope of Hermiston missing a free throw or two, Pendleton’s Ryan Russell fouled out, sending Andreason to the line.
Andreason’s first shot from the charity strip missed. His second found the basket to inch the Bulldogs’ advantage to 46-44, but a pair of Buck free throws tied it back up.
That’s when head coach Casey Arstein drew up the play that would have Jordan Ramirez come off a screen, attack the paint and kick.
Andreason was the one on the receiving end of that pass, and as one of two Bulldogs who has been dependable behind the arc, hit the shot of his life.
“I’m okay with him shooting that shot anytime,” Arstein said. “He’s one of the best shooters in the league.”
Andreason finished with a game-high 21 points. Ramirez finished with nine and Ortiz followed with eight points of his own.
Hermiston will now prepare for the first round of the OSAA state playoffs. Due to play-in games, the Bulldogs will not know who they play until Wednesday and because they fell outside of the top 16, they will be on the road this weekend.