HOOD RIVER — Desperately searching for its first win of the season, the Hood River Valley girls basketball team knew it had a golden opportunity last weekend, when two of the Intermountain Conference’s least experienced teams came to town.
But unfortunately for the Eagles, it was their lack of experience that was exposed in losses to Crook County (57-33) and Summit (35-33) — both picked among the lower third of the league in the recent preseason polls.
HRV now stands at 0-3 in the IMC (0-11 overall), and with little relief in sight, coach Tracy Norton is trying to keep it all in perspective.
“The Summit loss was tough because it was so close,” she said. “But the girls followed the game plan, took smarter shots and moved the ball better than Friday. Overall, we played a pretty strong game. We were just unlucky.”
The Eagles’ 10-25 effort from the free-throw line was what sealed their fate against the Storm, which won its second IMC game of the season on a putback by Brianna Creasey with 7 seconds left.
HRV junior wing Katie Flory was able to get off a shot at the buzzer, but it rimmed out, dashing the Eagles’ hopes of earning that elusive first victory.
“I felt the effort we came back with after Friday’s loss was very positive,” Norton said. “We could have come out half-heartedly, but we didn’t. We played smart, hard and tough, and I was proud of our effort.”
HRV was led by senior Anna Hidle’s 13 points and 13 rebounds on Saturday. The Eagles also benefitted from strong play by Alyssa Ortega, who grabbed nine boards and scored seven points, including the game-tying free throw with 22 seconds left.
Junior Kristen Hedges also improved her play over Friday night, making smarter decisions — and some key shots — at the point guard position. It was Hedges’ second three-pointer of the game cut Summit’s lead to one with 45 seconds left.
Saturday’s two-point loss came on the heels of a disappointing 24-point loss to Crook County, picked by many to finish eighth in the IMC after a 1-13 finish in 2003.
The Cowgirls took advantage of a flurry of HRV miscues early in the game to jump out to a 23-13 halftime lead. The spread remained at 10 points after three, but after HRV cut the lead to five with 5 minutes left in the game, the Cowgirls went on a 21-2 run to bury the Eagles at home.
“We simply didn’t play well at any aspect of the game on Friday,” Norton said. “Our ball control and ball movement were very poor, and we know we can’t win if we play like that.”
Hidle’s 22-point, 18-rebound performance was overshadowed by the team’s inability to make shots or control the ball. Ortega was the next leading scorer with four, while three others had two points apiece.
The Eagles will try to overcome their slow start on Friday, when they travel to 2-2 Mountain View for a 7 p.m. contest.