Still playing without three key members, the Horizon Christian basketball team dropped its fifth straight game Wednesday to the Stevenson JV team.
The 58-31 loss was the Hawks’ second to the Bulldogs in the season’s first two weeks, and the road ahead doesn’t look much easier.
Senior leading scorer Sheldon Diers is out with an ankle injury, as is junior newcomer Paul Salom, while 6-foot, three-inch freshman Jon Strickland is still awaiting eligibility approval from the OSAA.
“We’re taking our lumps right now, but we expect it,” coach Ron Haynes said of his team, which will face three of the state’s top 1A teams in the first week of the new year.
“We’re mostly getting beat on the boards, so getting our two 6’3” guys in the lineup will obviously help a lot,” he said.
The Hawks have two weeks of practice ahead of them before their next two contests against No. 8-ranked Country Christian on Jan. 3 and No. 5-ranked Dufur on Jan. 4.
“We really need to regroup over the holidays,” Hayes said. “If we don’t, we’re in trouble.”
Without Diers in the lineup, the Hawks are both very young and very small. After senior John Winters fouled out early in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, Horizon had four freshmen on the court along with the only other returning starter, sophomore Brian Stenberg.
“We’re young and we have a ways to go, but we’re definitely improving,” freshman guard Jason Borton said. “We look to John and Brian for leadership out there, so if one of them isn’t on the court, we tend to get out of sync.”
Borton and the Hawks are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Diers and Strickland for size, and Salom for his outside touch.
“Paul has a great touch from outside,” Borton said. “He murders ‘em from three.”
In the meantime, the Hawks will look to Winters and Stenberg to score and freshmen Jeff Larson and Jared Nagreen for an inside presence.
“Our biggest thing right now is to get some numbers,” Haynes said. “If we get those three key guys back, we’ll have 10 on the roster, and that should make us much more competitive.”