For the young, undersized Horizon Christian basketball team, the learning curve continues to wind in a positive direction despite a 1-11 start.
But, to this point, the 2002-03 season has been a long, winding road that has exposed the Hawks’ inexperience and taught them that, to gain experience, you have to take a few lumps in the process.
After earning their first win of the season on Jan. 10, Horizon has dropped four straight, including three in three days late last week. And, as much as they would like to compete with 1A state powers like Dufur and Country Christian, the Hawks understand that this is a building year.
“We knew it was going to be tough in this league,” coach Ron Haynes said of his team, which lost 64-32 to South Wasco on Friday, and 71-41 to Arlington on Saturday.
“But no team can play three days in a row and expect to compete at their best. By Saturday’s game, we were completely — and understandably — out of gas.”
The Hawks’ two league losses came on the heels of non-league contest with 2A Portland Christian on Thursday, which resulted in a 70-36 defeat.
“We won’t schedule any non-league games like that in the future,” Haynes said. “There’s ‘tough,’ and then there’s overkill.”
Despite the difficult stretch, the Hawks got a long-awaited boost over the weekend when 6-foot, 3-inch freshman Jon Strickland joined the team for the first time. Strickland had been appealing eligibility with the OSAA since November, and was finally given permission to play.
He scored six points in his first game versus South Wasco, and then lit it up for a team-high 16 points against Arlington.
“We’re really happy to have another experienced player on the roster,” Haynes said. “Jon will give us a huge boost on the boards, and he has a good nose for the basket.”
Unfortunately, Strickland’s arrival merely offsets the loss of another key player, freshman Jared Nagreen, who is traveling for the remainder of the season. The Hawks’ active roster remains at eight players, and the road ahead isn’t looking any easier.
Horizon still has upcoming games against state-ranked Dufur and South Wasco, as well as matchups with Ione, Condon, Echo and Cascade Locks.
“We just need to keep battling,” Haynes said. “Our seniors really want to finish the season on a high note. Everyone’s still having fun, and we’re improving every week.”
Senior John Winters scored a season-high 21 points on Thursday.