HOOD RIVER — To compete with the Mt. Hood Conference’s best, the HRV girls basketball team knows it needs to put together four quality quarters in a row.
Lately that has been the norm for the Eagles, but during their past two losses, the girls have come up short — by one quarter to Reynolds on Friday and three to Central Catholic Monday.
Monday night’s home affair was nothing like the overtime thriller in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 3. Although HRV weathered the storm well in the first half, the No. 2-ranked Rams proved to be too much in the second half, winning 67-37.
Central Catholic hit everything early and played relentless press defense all over the court to build a 21-9 lead after one. The Eagles came alive in the second quarter and matched the Rams hoop for hoop to go into the locker room down only 14 points at 33-19.
But the Rams refocused at halftime and built the lead to 23 points by the end of three with scrappy defense, rapidfire ball movement and an opportunistic fast break. They continued to turn the screws and went up by a game-high 33 before the final buzzer.
The intense defensive pressure aside, HRV was noticeably having an off night. Jumpers would miss wildly, free throws wouldn’t fall and all the bounces were going the Rams’ way. No HRV player, including leading scorer Lindsay Benjamin, could find her rhythm, and by mid-third quarter, the Eagles were playing for pride.
Benjamin finished with 11, Meghan Merz nine and Mickie Halliday five to lead the Eagles, who now sit at 3-7 in the MHC. Brittany Reed and Meghan Stintzi also played strong in reserve roles.
Friday’s contest at Reynolds wasn’t nearly as lopsided as Monday’s loss, but in some ways, it hurt more. HRV led the entire game, but became overwhelmed by the Raiders’ pressure with two minutes left and conceded the game 49-45.
“The game was a real heartbreaker,” coach Tracy Norton said of the loss to Reynolds, the team sitting in the fourth and final MHC playoff slot at 6-3.
“We had a few turnovers at crucial times and didn’t slow things down appropriately in the fourth quarter,” she said.
Norton said the referees called the game loosely, at times allowing play to continue despite heavy contact.
“Unfortunately, we got a little frustrated with the pressure and did too much dribbling instead of passing on the offensive end,” she said.
Benjamin led the Eagles with 16 points and was followed by Merz with 10 and Becki Flory with seven.