HOOD RIVER — HRV girls basketball coach Tracy Norton realized a few important things about her young ballclub last Friday when Reynolds paid them a visit.
First, the Eagles must respond better to the pressure. Second, they must convert from the free-throw line. And third, they can only get better.
Playing without starting guards Stefanie Draper and Becca Meierbachtol, and junior forward Alyssa Ortega, the Eagles shot just 40 percent from the line (10-25) and fell to their former Mt. Hood Conference rivals, 68-40.
Sophomore wing Talia Hinman was also slowed by the flu bug, and was unable to contribute her usual dose of unabated tenacity.
“Overall, I was a bit disappointed in our play for the night,” Norton said of her team, which looked confused at times yet ferocious at others.
“Our defense came out flat and we weren’t able to run our press effectively. Thus, we had to get out of our rhythm for most of the game.”
Norton also credited the much-improved Raiders for their scrappy defense and their ability to push the ball up the floor.
“They did a great job of applying pressure on our ball handlers throughout the game, and we struggled with that,” said Norton, who used sophomore Kristen Hedges and junior Suni Davis at the point in the absence of Draper (sprained ankle) and Meierbachtol (stress fracture, left foot).
Junior Anna Hidle led the way for HRV in three main statistical categories: Rebounding (eight), steals (four, tied with Davis) and assists (two). She also played relentless defense throughout the night, and helped HRV break the press better as the game progressed.
Hidle’s four points were good for fifth on the team behind senior Becki Flory (10), Hinman (six), freshman Meghan Flem (six) and senior Brittany Reed (five).
Flem also contributed five boards, while sophomore Katie Pritchett had four and Reed three.
Norton said she was pleased with the effort of her young players in their first game, and sees plenty to build upon as the Eagles prepare for Intermountain Conference play.
“In the next few weeks, we will be working on ironing out some ‘young’ mistakes,” she said. “Our hopes are that when we get everyone healthy, we will be able to get back to what we do well, and start winning some games.”
The Eagles hoped to have Draper back for Tuesday night’s showdown with No. 6-ranked Central Catholic (results not available at press time), but Norton said Draper and Ortega (knee) would be game-time decisions.
Meierbachtol, the team’s best ball-handler and most experienced floor general, will be sidelined until at least mid-January with a foot injury she suffered during the 4A soccer playoffs in early November.
Until that time, young players like Hedges, Davis and Katie Flory will be asked to handle the ball more and pass the ball down low to Flem, Reed, Hidle and Lori Wimmers.
Next up for the Eagles is the Hood River Invitational — a four-team tournament that will take place Friday and Saturday at HRVHS, beginning at 5:45 p.m. HRV’s first game will be Friday at 7:30 p.m. against St. Helens of the Three Rivers League.
No. 8 Hermiston and Rex Putnam will also participate in the mini-tournament, which will pit the winners and losers against each other on Saturday. First game is at 5:45 p.m.