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Eagles devour The Dalles in defensive battle

“When the offense isn’t working, it’s nice to know you can rely on your defense.”

That’s how HRV senior guard Sam Murillo summed up the Eagles’ lackluster 40-28 win over The Dalles on Tuesday.

While the outcome was never in doubt, the Eagles (4-6) still made it interesting at times, and played right into the Indians’ slow, plodding style of play.

But stifling half-court defense and a spirited rebounding effort by the Eagles gave The Dalles little chance of making it close.

“It wasn’t a great offensive night, but we were really strong defensively,” senior Ryan Pratt said. “When you hold a team to two points in a quarter, you’re obviously doing something right.”

HRV led 15-2 after one quarter, and appeared well on its way to a blowout victory. But uninspired play in the second and third quarters allowed the Indians to hang around and narrow the deficit to 26-18 at the end of three.

That’s about the time Andy Holmson decided to take over the game. The senior point guard quarterbacked a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter, and put the game out of reach with eight points and two assists in the final frame.

Holmson finished with 20 points and raised his season average to 15.6 points per game — fifth in the Intermountain Conference after 10 preseason games.

Pratt scored six, while fellow seniors Todd Shypertt and Mitchell Bohn each chipped in four. Murillo had three, Jarrod Fogle two and Tyler Monzie one to round out the box score.

“We just didn’t get enough reps on offense,” Murillo said. “But our defense really came to play and that was the difference.”

The Indians also did an effective job of slowing down the fast-paced Eagle offense, and didn’t allow many second-chance opportunities. Junior post Parker Jones led the rebounding charge and also scored most of the points (17 of the team’s 28).

But Jones was the lone bright spot for The Dalles, which completed the preseason at 2-9.

HRV’s next test is No. 2-ranked Redmond (Friday, results not yet available), which is poised to make a run at the conference and state titles. The Eagles also face Bend this weekend — a game that will determine whether they can compete for a playoff spot.

“We want to get two wins, but we need to get a split at worst,” Pratt said. “If we’re going to finish in the top four, we need all the wins we can get, and we have the confidence that we can beat anyone with our defense.”

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