By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
January 17, 2007
The game was quickly becoming a story that had been written before.
The Hood River Valley Eagles girls, clinging to a three-point lead in the fourth quarter against Centennial, began turning the ball over. However, after Centennial returned the favor several times at the end, Meredith Danko took over and scored the Eagles’ final five points as Hood River held on for a 43-36 win for its first home victory of the season Friday night.
Danko scored 19 points and Brianne Rowley added 11, while the Eagles also got solid performances of the bench from Sandra Jefferies, Jill Chance, and Rachel Schlosser in the win. Rachel Newby led Centennial with 16 points.
“Before the game, I just wrote on the board ‘Win,’” Eagles coach Phil Hukari said. “It feels good to get in the win column.”
The Eagles led from start to finish for the first time this season, using good ball movement and effective shot selection to take a 24-16 lead at halftime. Hood River built a lead as large as 11 in the first half as Schlosser and Danko helped keep the offense moving with crisp passes inside to Rowley, who scored eight of her points in the first half.
In the second half neither team could get much momentum going and scoring came in spurts for both teams.
Hood River had several chances to put the game away in the fourth quarter, but could not convert on several layups. Meanwhile, Centennial kept themselves in the game through three- point shots.
The Eagles also got called for several offensive fouls, but Centennial was not able to generate many points off possession changes as they either missed shots, or turned the ball over against a tough Hood River defense led by Danko, Meagan Clark and Rachel Perry.
Hood River was finally able to put the game away in the final minute when Danko hit a three pointer and then followed it with a long two to give the Eagles an eight point advantage that Centennial was able to get down to five points before time ran out.
Rowley credited an increased attentiveness to defense in practice to getting the Eagles the win.
“We picked up the intensity in our practices,” she said. “We’ve been practicing our defense a lot.”
Danko, on the other hand, noticed a marked increase in the productivity of the Eagles’ offense.
“We were putting things together on offense and passing the ball around to find good shots,” she said.
Hukari saw some flaws in both the offense and defense, but considered his team’s performance in both aspects, as well as the contribution from his bench, to be markedly improved.
“I’m just happy with the overall team effort,” he said.