PASCO, Wash. — Hermiston coach Drew Preuninger got his first taste of the Mid-Columbia Conference on Friday, and his team came away with a 57-53 road win over Pasco.

“We talked about this game all week,” Preuninger said. “We were the only ones playing tonight, and if we won we’d be leading the league — for at least a day.”

Hermiston led 23-14 midway through the second quarter, and 34-22 at the half.

Pasco cut the deficit to 45-34 after three quarters, but could not catch the Dawgs down the stretch.

“We are very inexperienced,” Preuninger said. “We hadn’t been in that situation before (holding onto a lead late). We turned the ball over and took too quick of shots, and we weren’t making them. It was a super fun game for our kids to go through this early in the season.”

Jaiden Rudolph led Hermiston (2-2, 1-0 MCC) with 12 points, while Trent Pitney added 11 points and eight rebounds. Sergio Madrigal had 11 points and four rebounds.

Ethan Legard led Pasco with a game-high 16 points. Nick Gutierrez added 11 points.

Hermiston will host Kennewick at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We have a big load going against that point guard,” Preuninger said of Kennewick’s Ayoni Benavidez. “Those two 6-5 kids (Baiden and Baylor McElroy) are bigger than anyone we have. That will be a tough game. Hopefully, this (win) will give us some confidence going into tomorrow.”

Girls hoops

In a battle of the Bulldogs, Pasco made a 20-7 run in the second quarter to take down Hermiston early and hand them a 54-45 Mid-Columbia Conference loss on Friday.

Hermiston took a 24-11 lead by the end of the first quarter, bolstered by Katelyn Heideman’s four 3-pointers, but the game got away from them after the opening eight minutes.

“We came out hot,” Hermiston head coach Maloree Moss said. “We played hard team defense. But we let ‘em back into the game in the second half. We went cold.”

Jazlyn Romero scored two points at the line in the third quarter — the only points Hermiston would record until the final eight minutes.

Hermiston outscored Pasco 12-8 in the fourth quarter, but could not overcome its early deficit.

Heideman led the Hermiston Bulldogs with a team-best 16 points on the night.

Hermiston (2-1) hosts Kennewick Saturday at 5:45 p.m.

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