Something has clicked with the the HRV girls basketball team over the past month.
After losing to a freshman-dominated Centennial team Dec. 18 to fall to 2-7 on the season, the players have responded to put together five quality efforts in a row — three of them wins.
Even when they’re not winning games, the girls are giving their opponents fits, such as when they pushed state-ranked Central Catholic to overtime on Jan. 3.
Tuesday night was no different for the Eagles as they took on the young Centennial squad a second time, this time producing a much different outcome — a 46-30 win.
The Eagles (4-5, 5-9) took advantage of Centennial’s inexperience early and built a 10-2 lead to start the game behind two Lindsay Benjamin three-pointers and strong play in the paint by Mickie Halliday and Meghan Merz.
Benjamin made four three’s in the game and totaled 17 points on the night to lead the Eagles. She also raised her season average to 14.0 points per game, fourth in the Mt. Hood Conference.
Halliday also had a big night, scoring nine points, grabbing seven rebounds, and fighting tooth-and-nail for every loose ball in the paint. Right there with her was Becki Flory, who grabbed eight boards to go with seven points.
The Eagles jumped out to a 20-10 advantage with two minutes left in the first half after going on an 8-0 run that was punctuated by back-to-back threes by Benjamin and Flory.
After a three-minute scoring drought, Centennial finally hit late in the first half to narrow the lead to 22-12 at the break.
The visiting Eagles came out fast and furious in the third quarter, but HRV’s poise in the backcourt and ability to find the open man in the paint offset the pressure. HRV stretched its lead to 31-17 with four minutes left in the third on another Benjamin three-pointer.
Centennial’s Claire Carpenter tried to keep it close by hitting two threes late in the quarter — the second which narrowed the gap to just eight points with 1:30 to play.
Carpenter, who finished with nine points, began the fourth quarter with a three to bring Centennial within six at 35-29.
But that was the last hoop Centennial would see the rest of the night as HRV finished the game on a 9-0 run before Kim Turin hit one of two free throws with less than one minute to play.
After the Carpenter three, Centennial became overzealous on defense and allowed HRV to spread the court. Merz and Halliday effectively made the extra pass to avoid pressure, and HRV slowly pulled away.
One of the keys to the Eagles’ success the past five games has been the ability of Meierbachtol and Benjamin to work together in the backcourt. Just as they did against Barlow on Jan. 11, the two guards were able to alleviate Centennial’s pressure with rapid ball movement and communication.
Meierbachtol made some uncharacteristically ill-advised passes into traffic during the second half, but made up for them with her hustle and ability to sink free throws down the stretch.
HRV played Gresham Friday but results were not available at press time. The team has Tuesday off and travels to Reynolds on Jan. 25 for a rematch of a game the Eagles would like to have back — a lackluster home defeat on Dec. 7.
HRV 46, Centennial 30
Benjamin 17, Halliday 9, Flory 7, Merz 6, Meierbachtol 6, Sanguras 1