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Lady Eagles take two league wins

January 18, 2006

After two tough league losses against Pendleton and The Dalles-Wahtonka, the Hood River Valley High School varsity girls’ basketball team needed to bounce back and regain some momentum heading into the second half of the season. With games against Summit and Mountain View high schools on Friday and Saturday respectively, the girls had home-court advantage for two key-to-win games.

And the girls did not leave their home crowd disappointed. Both games were suspenseful, well-played and down to the wire. And in both games, the Eagles finished on top, defeating Summit 36-34 and Mountain View 45-44.

“I felt the girls took some great strides toward becoming a real team this weekend,” commented Coach Phil Hukari. “In both games teamwork, aggressive defense and unselfish play led to victory. We will probably still have some rough times ahead, but I am really proud how the girls rose to the occasion this weekend.”

The victories improve the team’s record to 7-5 overall and 3-3 in the league, which currently places them in the middle of the Intermountain Conference standings at fifth.

Friday vs. Summit

In a game in which neither team backed down or gave up, the Eagles’ defense and teamwork was the deciding factor in their win. The girls held Summit to only three points in the first quarter, giving themselves a 9-3 lead. The second quarter was fairly even, with Summit outscoring Hood River 11 points to 10. Summit took the lead in the third, with Hood River slowing to only seven points to 14 from the opposition. The slump could have cost the Eagles the game, but they fired back in the final quarter, outscored Summit 10-4, played solid defense and came away with the two-point victory.

Hukari noted a single play as having a key role in the girls’ victory.

“It came down to one play, executed to perfection,” he said. “Chelsey Elliott received a great back-screen off our basic offense and Meredith Danko hit her with a perfect pass to score in the last few minutes.”

Danko and Elliott also hit key free throws and Abby Walters hit a huge three-pointer to key a rally in the fourth quarter. Defensively, Brianne Rowley and Jamie Abbott helped control the inside and Hood River’s guards did a good job of taking Summit’s leading scorer out of the game with solid defending.

Scoring highlights:

Chelsey Elliott 15 points, Abby Walters 7 points, Meredith Danko 5 points.

Saturday vs. Mountain View

The Eagles again opened with a solid first quarter, outscoring Mountain View 10-5. The Cougars stepped up their game in the second quarter, however, and took a two-point lead by halftime after one of their shooters came up with four threes in the second quarter.

“The girls played one of the most complete games of the year,” said Hukari. “It came right down to the final seconds … The great thing about the game was the way our bench supported the girls on the court. There was a real team feeling.”

The Eagles went 16 for 22 from the line, which is a season-high stat that played a key role in the win.

Keeping the Cougars’ offense in check was solid defending by Mariah Herman and Rowley. Elliott, who led the girls in scoring once again, came up with two key steals in the fourth to keep the ball out of Mountain View’s hands just long enough.

From the stands, the fourth quarter was the most thrilling. Both teams scored 16 and the Eagles finished ahead by a single point.

Scoring highlights:

Chelsey Elliott 17 points, Mariah Herman 9 points, Abby Walters 7 points, Brianne Rowley 6 points, Meredith Danko 4 points.

The girls host a make-up game today against Dallas High School (5:15 p.m. JV and 7 p.m. varsity) before going on the road to Redmond Friday evening.

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