In the Mid-Columbia Conference, any slack in your team’s momentum can cost you the game.
While the Hermiston girls experienced that in brief lapses, it was what derailed the visiting Kamiakin Braves on Saturday night.
The Dawgs fought to hold onto a 10-point advantage throughout the contest, and an early fourth-quarter rally put the game out of reach for good as Hermiston cruised a 76-50 win.
It was the Bulldog’s first win over Kamiakin (2-10, 1-7 MCC) since they joined the MCC.
“We wanted to come out strong, and we did that,” said Hermiston senior Jazlyn Romero, who poured in 16 points to lead the Bulldogs. “But then we lagged a little bit. You can’t afford those mental lapses in the MCC. You never know — anyone can win any game on any given night.”
Romero, sophomore Sydney Seavert, and junior Kaylee Young opened play with three consecutive treys for Hermiston that helped it to a 9-2 lead.
Braves freshman Kathryn Hollenberg notched two unanswered baskets that pulled them within five points in response, and sophomore Kylie Malloy hit a basket to cut the deficit to just three with 4:36 left in the quarter.
Seavert sank another 3-pointer in the final minute to help keep the Dawgs up 22-16 at the buzzer.
Braves freshman Nikole Thomas, who finished the game with 15 points, got her team within three points again with just 3:53 left in the half, but Romero strung together two baskets from beyond the arc for a 31-22 advantage.
Sophomore Mia Hernandez hit a 3-pointer in the final 30 seconds to give Hermiston a 37-27 lead at the half.
In the game’s closest quarter, the Bulldogs were outscored 19-18 in the third.
A 3-pointer from Katelyn Heideman helped the Bulldogs to a 10-point lead at 51-41 with just 2:30 to go. The Braves trailed just 55-46 with one quarter to play.
“Our coach (Maloree Moss) kind of yelled at us at the half,” Heideman said. “We weren’t playing as a team. She lit a fire under our butts.”
That fire burned the hottest in the final 8 minutes, where the Bulldogs went on a 21-4 run.
The Dawgs opened the quarter with a 13-point streak, capped off by two at the free-throw line from Romero, hoisting them to their first of two 24-point advantages at 70-46 with 2:30 left to play.
“We started hitting more shots,” Moss said of the fourth quarter. “Defensively, we got some stops. We really came together as a team. We outlasted (Kamiakin).”
The Braves got one basket each from Thomas and Lindsey Benham in the final three minutes.
Hermiston (7-5, 4-4 MCC) got 13 points each from Heideman and Young.
WALLA WALLA (Washington) 55, HERMISTON 42 — The Bulldogs saw their four-game win streak come to an end, as they fell to the host Blue Devils in Mid-Columbia Conference action Friday night.
“We had a really slow start,” Hermiston coach Maloree Moss said. “We needed a couple of our shots to fall in the first half, and that might have helped us gain some momentum.”
Jazlyn Romero notched two treys in the first quarter, and the Dawgs trailed 17-12 at the first buzzer. They were outscored 17-3 in the second, where their lone basket came from Jayden Ray beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Rian Clear scored 11 of Walla Walla’s 17 points in the second quarter.
“I’m super proud of the way we responded after halftime,” Moss said, “but we ran out of steam, and the ball didn’t fall our way like we needed it to in the fourth.”
The Dawgs took the third quarter 13-6, and the fourth 16-15, but could not complete the rally.
Romero led Hermiston (6-5, 3-4 MCC) with 18 points, and Ray added 11. Clear had 22 points on the night for the Blue Devils (8-3, 4-3 MCC).