Nearly two months of hard work finally came to fruition for the Horizon Christian basketball team, which won its first game of the season Friday: a 46-36 road victory over the Crook County Christian Warriors of Redmond.
Not only did the win mark the Hawks’ first of the season, but it also gave them an undefeated start to the Big Sky Conference season.
“We didn’t shoot particularly well, but we were able to control the boards,” said coach Ron Haynes, whose team improved to 1-7 before losing to Cascade Locks, 76-46, on Saturday at Wy’east Middle School.
“We methodically moved to a big halftime lead and were able to play a strong second half to make sure it didn’t get away,” he said.
Sophomore Brian Stenberg scored 16 points to lead Horizon, which is still playing with a roster of eight. Freshman Jeff Larson scored nine, while senior John Winters and freshman Jared Nagreen each contributed six points to the cause.
Haynes also pointed to the play of Jonathon Wold, who pitched in four points off the bench. Senior Sheldon Diers, who is recovering from an early-season ankle injury, rounded out the scoring with five.
The glow of Friday’s win was short-lived, however, as the Pirates of Cascade Locks paid the Hawks a visit and plundered them by 30 points.
Horizon trailed 16-2 to start the game, but was able to keep the lead at 15 until the start of the fourth quarter. That’s when the Pirates promptly put together a 24-9 run to finish off the Hawks.
Deadly shooting from the perimiter and a suffocating full-court press by Cascade Locks gave the inexperienced Horizon ball-handlers little chance of whittling away such a large lead.
Despite the large margin of defeat, Haynes still emerged with a positive outlook heading into games with Portland Christian (Thursday), Wasco County (Friday) and Arlington (Saturday).
“Freshmen Jeff Larson and Jared Nagreen played very well in both games, providing both rebounding and scoring for us,” Haynes said.
The recent play of Stenberg also gives the Hawks a tremendous lift as they try to figure out a way to compete with the sharp-shooting, physical teams from the Big Sky.
After scoring a season-high 17 on Jan. 3, Stenberg again led the Hawks in scoring on Saturday with 13 points, and has shown a proficiency for getting to the free-throw line.
He made five of eight free-throws on Saturday and two of five attempts on Friday. Larson also shot well from the line in the two games, going 5-7.
Larson followed Stenberg in scoring on Saturday with 10 points, while Nagreen had nine, Winters seven, Diers five and Wold two.
Horizon’s next home game is Jan. 18 versus Arlingon at 4 p.m.