Tuesday, January 21, 2003
The Intermountain Conference had better look out, because the Hood River Valley girls basketball team is on a serious roll.
Four wins in the past six games have all but erased an 0-7 start, while back-to-back road wins last weekend have put the Eagles right in the middle of the playoff hunt.
“We all know that it’s hard to win away from home,” said junior wing Anna Hidle, who scored 14 and eight points, respectively, in wins over Crook County (46-45) and Summit (47-43).
“Road trips can be exhausting, but we found a way to pull ourselves together. We knew we were the better team, and I think that is what carried us,” she said.
Besides her scoring, Hidle was again HRV’s biggest threat on the boards, keeping the Eagles in games with hustle and good position underneath the hoop.
But Hidle wasn’t alone in leading the Eagles to victory last weekend. Senior Becki Flory also showed her road-worthiness with 12 points Friday and 11 on Saturday.
Freshman Stefanie Draper scored a season-high 10 points on Friday and chipped in six on Saturday, while fellow ninth-grader Meghan Flem came up big with eight points against Summit.
“I think the Bend win last week helped show us that we could be in the running for the playoffs,” Hidle said. “We’ve shown that we can compete in this league, but we will have prove it against Mountain View. That’s going to be a big one.”
The Cougars, who are currently tied with HRV for fourth place at 3-2, visit Hood River on Friday at 7 p.m.
A win would give the Eagles an edge in the standings, while a loss would mean they would likely have to defeat Mountain View Feb. 22 on the road — the last game of the season for both teams.
“A loss wouldn’t put us out of contention,” Hidle said, “but we need to get a win on our home court.”
After winning three of five games in the IMC, the Eagles have a new-found confidence that should keep them in the hunt the rest of the way.
But, according to coach Tracy Norton, the key to HRV’s recent run has been defense, defense, defense.
“We had a great weekend, especially on defense,” she said. “We pressed both teams well, and were able to apply quite a bit of pressure on their ballhandlers, which resulted in a lot of turnovers.”
Norton said the Eagles have also improved their ball movement around the perimeter, which has helped players like Talia Hinman and Kristen Hedges get more involved in the offense.
One area the Eagles need to improve upon is their free-throw shooting, which was marginal in both games (official numbers not available).
“The games wouldn’t have been close if we had made more free throws down the stretch,” Norton said. “But we are beginning to shoot much better from the field.”
Next up for the Eagle girls is a home match-up on Thursday with a battle-tested Pendleton squad. The Buckaroos currently sit atop the IMC standings along with Redmond and Hermiston, and should provide the Eagles with a barometer of where they stand.
“We’re getting used to the more physical play of the IMC, and we’re gaining confidence with every game,” Norton said.