HERMISTON — The first 16 minutes of Thursday’s contest between Hermiston and Hood River Valley looked more like a track meet than a basketball game.
Both teams’ offenses were efficient, as the Bulldogs (14-25 FG, 56 percent) and Eagles (12-26, 46 percent) spent most of the game action simply running up and down the court as the teams traded baskets left and right. In total, there were 14 lead changes and three ties just in that first half alone.
But the Bulldogs were able to tighten up some weak spots on defense at the halftime break, which helped boost them to a 69-61 victory over the Eagles to remain unbeaten in Columbia River Conference play.
“We were just bad on defense, honestly,” Hermiston senior Xavier Rambo said of the first half effort. “They were getting wide open looks and we really didn’t do anything about it. But we had a talk in the break to keep our hands up and don’t let off, do the simple things we weren’t doing in the first half and it worked.”
Rambo was a big factor for Hermiston’s offense in the first half, scoring 16 of his game-high 21 points there. The Eagles defense was slow to keep track of the quick six-footer, as Rambo hung out in the middle of Hood River’s zone defense at the free throw line and turned several entry passes into easy floaters and lay-ins.
Holding a 36-30 lead at the halftime break, Hermiston came out in the third quarter with some fresh legs and a renewed intensity on both ends of the floor. The Bulldogs shot 7-12 (58 percent) from the floor in the third quarter and then held Hood River to 5-11 (45 percent) to grow their lead to 10 points at 55-45 to end the third.
Hermiston bench players played a big factor in the third and fourth quarters on Thursday, including sophomores Cesar Ortiz and Ryne Andreason who each chipped in two 3-pointers and seven points.
Andreason only recently came back to play after missing approximately six weeks due to a fractured wrist, and Arstein said he was really impressed with how Andreason played.
“I was really proud of Ryne,” Arstein said. “He’s one of the smartest kids in the program, basketball IQ-wise and he has a great looking shot. He had a good summer and I thought he might make a good role player for us this year and he showed it with a good night tonight.
The win came a day after Hermiston dispatched The Dalles 75-52 to open the season.
Rambo scored 10 points in the first quarter and 19 by halftime to finish with a team-high 27, Hunter Walls hit four three-pointers for 12 points, and Thomas McCullough added 10 points and seven rebounds in a rare start for Hermiston.
HOOD RIVER — The Hermiston girls basketball team earned another lopsided league win on Thursday and beat Hood River Valley 55-25 on its own court.
Junior post Maddy Juul had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, and freshman guard Jazlyn Romero added 11 more points to lead the Bulldogs (8-8, 2-0 CRC). Senior forward Kynzee Padilla added 10 rebounds to go with six points, and Hermiston coach Juan Rodriguez said his team’s ability to control the boards was a big factor in the outcome.
“They (the posts) are coming out of their shell and they’re dominating like they’re supposed to,” he said.
Rodriguez said the game also seems to be slowing down for Romero as the season progresses.
“She’s reading the game and she’s already got a pretty high basketball IQ so it’s all about getting used to the speed,” he said. “She’s doing a really good job running the offense from the point.”
STANFIELD — Brody Woods scored with less than 30 seconds left Monday night and Sherman’s attempt to win with a three-pointer clanged off the rim just before the buzzer as Stanfield avenged its only loss of the season 82-80.
The non-league game pitted Class 2A’s No. 1-ranked Stanfield Tigers (15-1) against Class 1A defending state champion and No. 2-ranked Sherman Huskies.
When they met on Dec. 3 in the second game of the season it was the Huskies celebrating an 85-67 win on their home court.
“We really wanted the opportunity to see how much we had progressed,” said Stanfield coach Jason Sperr. “We were kind of using this as a measuring stick.”
Stanfield’s Dylan Grogan led all scorers with 33 points, and Thyler Monkus finished with 12 as the only Tigers to reach double digits.
Stanfield won a pair of league games in the previous week, first knocking off Pilot Rock 95-53 then getting past Heppner on the road 62-58 on Saturday.
Grogan scored 29 points in the Pilot Rock win, Bailey added 13 and Jose Garcia had 11, and Stanfield hit 11 three-pointers.
In Heppner, the Mustangs tried their hardest to slow down the pace of the game, but in the end the Tigers were just too much to handle.
“It was a great high school basketball game where both teams fought hard for 32 minutes,” Heppner coach Jeremy Rosenbalm said, “but we just made a few mental mistakes down the stretch that they (Stanfield) capitalized on. But I couldn’t be more proud with how my kids played tonight.”
The Stanfield girls lost a pair over the weekend, dropping Friday night’s game to Heppner 55-39 and Saturday afternoon’s game to Pilot Rock 48-22.
Kendra Hart led Stanfield with 13 points in the Friday game and Natalia Esquivel led the team Saturday with 11 points and eight rebounds.
It was Heppner’s first league win since 2015 and Jacee Currin led the Mustangs with 22 points and a strong 10-14 performance at the free throw line, while Madison Combe had 13 points and six rebounds.
NYSSA — The Irrigon girls split a weekend road trip, losing to Vale 47-29 Friday and beating Nyssa 50-38 in a Saturday matinee.
“We dug ourselves in a little hole in the first half,” Irrigon coach Mike Royer said about Friday’s game. “We pulled to within three in the third quarter, but unfortunately were not able to score the rest of the way, so the outcome wasn’t to our liking.”
Jada Burns led Irrigon (9-8, 2-3 EOL) with 14 points and was the only Knight to reach double figures.
In Nyssa the Knights got back to .500 in the Eastern Oregon League standings.
Burns again led Irrigon in scoring with 11 points, while Taylor Davis and Alyia Munoz scored 10 points apiece. Munoz also led the team in rebounds with seven, and both Davis and Burns recorded five boards each.