HOOD RIVER — At the end of every season, a team recalls one or two games it “shoulda had.” Games that were decided by a turnover, bad call or last-second shot. Games that, come playoff time, determine whether you play or go home.
For the HRV boys basketball team, Friday’s 65-63 loss to Gresham may be the most difficult game to forget.
With eight seconds left and the Eagles down 63-61, Nate Armerding missed a floater in the lane. But he hustled to get his own rebound and snuck a pass through traffic to Eric Nelson, who laid it in to tie the score.
Without hesitation or a timeout, Gresham sent an outlet pass to Harrison Malone, who took a few dribbles and rose up for a six-foot baseliner that proved to be the game winner.
A stunned HRV side was unable to stop the clock and heaved the ball up in desperation, forced to reckon with its fourth straight conference defeat.
“(Gresham’s) best chance in that situation was to attack the hoop,” HRV coach Tom Ames said. “It was a sideline break, probably something they work on in practice. We were ready for it, he just made the shot.”
Despite being on the losing end, Ames thought his team played strong from the opening tip to the final buzzer, and is still confident that the bounces will start going the Eagles’ way.
Point guard Andy Holmson played one of his most complete games of the season, guiding the Eagle offense with 18 points on 7-7 shooting, and four assists.
Armerding matched Holmson’s point total with 18, but had an atypical night shooting the ball, going 4-16 from the floor (1-9 three-pointers). He did, however, make 90 percent of his free throws — five in the fourth quarter — and add team highs in rebounds (6) and assists (5).
HRV also benefitted from strong inside games by Eric Nelson (12 pts., 5 reb.) and Heath Goin (6 pts., 2 reb.). Both players helped ignite an early 10-0 run for the Eagles that gave them a 23-10 lead at the end of one.
Gresham crept back into the game, and by halftime, was only down three at 33-30. The Gophers took their first lead of the game four minutes into the third and led until the final shot of the quarter, which Holmson buried from half court to tie it at 47-47.
Holmson then led off the fourth quarter with another trey, but Gresham weathered the storm, taking the lead with four minutes left and never looking back.
Gresham 65, HRV 63
HRV — Holmson 18, Armerding 18, Nelson 12, Goin 6, Bohn 5, Shyppertt 4