ODELL — Some teams have to reach rock bottom before they can see the top of the world.
And, as the Horizon Christian basketball team will tell you, there is no better remedy to cure the ails of a 10-game losing streak than a 23-point home win.
The Hawks led from wire to wire on Saturday at Wy’east Middle School, defeating Crook County Christian, 60-37, for their second win of the season. It was also their second Big Sky Conference victory, which raised their record to 2-11 (2-18 overall).
“There was no doubt that this was our game,” said senior Sheldon Diers, who led the Hawks with 18 points. “We haven’t played this well all season, and it should help us in our final two games.”
Horizon still has to face No. 3-ranked Arlington on Tuesday (results not available at press time), and will close out the season at home against Wheeler on Saturday.
But, whether they win or lose, the Hawks got exactly what they needed against Crook County on Saturday — an affirmation that they have improved immensely since the beginning of the season.
“We’re coming up, that’s for sure,” said sophomore Brian Stenberg, who scored six points Saturday and five points Friday in a 54-29 loss to county rival Cascade Locks.
“We’re building for the future right now. Even though we’re losing a couple key guys, the ones that are coming back next year make up a pretty solid core,” he said.
Besides Stenberg, another member of that core group is freshman post Jeff Larson, whose silky smooth jump shot and accurate free-throw shooting netted him 15 points Saturday and a team-high 17 on Friday.
“I was surprised that they were letting me get the ball inside so much,” Larson said. “My teammates just kept finding me underneath, and all I had to do was lay it in.”
Larson has also been a menace on the boards for the Hawks. He has reached double figures in rebounds on many occasions, and consistently keeps offensive rallies alive with his opportunistic nature.
“We’re a much better team when everyone gets involved,” Larson said. “If one or two guys have to do all the scoring, we have games like we did on Friday.”
But the Hawks aren’t going to dwell on Friday’s disappointing loss at Cascade Locks. Instead, they’re going to revel in the glory of their first win in nearly one month.
“We finally got the fast break going and started running the floor more,” Diers said. “Friday’s game was so horrible, and this effort definitely made up for it.”
Joining Diers and Larson in double figures on Saturday was senior John Winters, who tallied 11 points. Freshman Jon Strickland added eight, giving the Hawks a strong 1-2-3-4 punch throughout the game.
While the Hawks gave a solid effort the entire game, it was the second quarter that effectively put away the Warriors. After taking a 13-6 lead at the end of one, Horizon went on a 22-2 run in the second quarter to bury Crook County before halftime.
“The second quarter was probably our best quarter of the year,” coach Ron Haynes said. “We wanted to run more off the defensive boards, and we accomplished that.”
Adding to the Hawks’ resurgence on Saturday were freshmen Jason Borton, Joel Winters and junior Jonathon Wold. For a wrap-up of the Tuesday’s game, see the Feb. 15 edition.