Hermiston has played some good basketball as of late, and last week it looked as if the Bulldogs might be in the hunt for another upset.

The Bulldogs trailed 30-25 early in the third quarter on Jan. 14, but Kennewick clamped down on defense and pulled way for a 68-40 Mid-Columbia Conference victory at the Lions Den.

“We lost our will to compete, I think,” Hermiston coach Maloree Moss said. “We couldn’t find the bucket after we cut it to five. We kind of rolled over when things didn’t go our way.”

The Lions (11-1, 8-1 MCC) are at the top of the MCC standings with Chiawana, and handed the Riverhawks their first loss last week.

“I can’t complain,” Lions coach Daron Santo said. “They are really coming together as a team, especially defensively.”

After a slow start that saw the Lions take an 11-3 lead, the Bulldogs (7-6, 4-5 MCC) got a three-point play from Bailey Young, and 3-pointers from Jazlyn Romero and Katelyn Heideman to pull within 15-12 at the end of the quarter.

Hermiston kept the pressure on in the second, getting 3s from Heideman, Romero and Mia Hernandez to trail 30-23 at the half.

“I’m super proud of the way we played in the first half,” Moss said.

Young hit a basket to open the third quarter and pull the Bulldogs within 30-25, but they would not score again for 4 minutes. In the that span, the Lions went on a 9-0 run.

In the final 27 seconds of the quarter, Madeline Gebers and Maya Thornton drained 3s to give Kennewick a commanding 46-30 lead.

“We switched it up defensively and went more man,” Santo said. “They struggled with that. That third quarter was huge, we got our momentum back.”

The onslaught continued in the fourth quarter as the Lions went on a 22-10 run.

Jayden Ray and Hernandez each had four points in the fourth for the Bulldogs.

“They are No. 9 in the state for a reason,” Moss said of the Lions. “Their coach is good, and their players trust it.”

Hernandez led the Bulldogs with 13 points, while Heideman added 10.

Gerbers scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. Meilani McBee, who has committed to Hawaii, chipped in 17 points, and Avery Fiander added 15.

“I was really proud of Madi,” Santo said. “She really struggled in the first half.”

MCC boys basketball

KENNEWICK 83, HERMISTON 35 — Kennewick’s Ayoni Benavidez scored a game-high 26 points to lead the Lions to an MCC win over the visiting Bulldogs.

The Lions led 23-5 at the end of the first quarter, and 42-16 at the half.

“The biggest concern for me is the kids’ effort,” Hermiston coach Drew Preuninger said. “I need to find a group that will give a consistent effort. I think they can give me a little more.”

Hermiston (2-11, 1-8 MCC) played without Ivan Rangel (ankle injury), who was injured in the Richland game last week.

“We hope to get him back next week,” Preuninger said. “He is a big body, and he’s physical.”

Chase Elliott led the Bulldogs with 12 points, while Jaiden Ruloph and Tyler Lin each had six points.

Benavidez, the MCC’s leading scorer, needed just seven points before the game to join the 1,000th-point club.

Benavidez hit two free throws, a basket, and a 3-pointer from the top of the key just 2:53 into the game to reach the milestone.

Jack Pyu added 11 points for the Lions (8-4, 6-3 MCC), who had all but one player score.

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