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Rams get tough on Eagles

By BEN MCCARTY

News staff writer

January 20, 2007

Basketball double headers have become rare for the Hood River Valley Eagles in recent years. The Central Catholic Rams probably helped them become even rarer with their dominating performances Thursday night.

In the opening girls’ game, Central Catholic led from start to finish in a 76-30 win and against the Hood River boys, the Rams used a fourth-quarter surge to knock off the Eagles 73-54.

For three quarters the Eagle boys hung with the Rams, and even led at several points.

In the first quarter the Eagles came out fired up on defense and forced several Central Catholic turnovers to stay close. The Eagles kept up the stingy defense in the second quarter but could never build a significant lead as the Rams used excellent ball movement and solid free throw shooting to take a 28-25 lead to the halftime break. Hood River’s Adam Kennedy hit a near-half court three pointer that would have tied the game at the end of the half, but it was waved off for coming after the horn had sounded.

When the second half opened neither team could separate itself from the other as both sides fell victim to turnovers and missing open shots. However, after falling behind midway through the period, Central Catholic begin hitting shots consistently and opened up a five-point lead–the largest either team had enjoyed to that point. Down four points in the final minute of the half, the Eagles tried to slow things down in order to get the last shot of the quarter. However, Jeremy Rowley was called for an offensive foul for clearing out a Central Catholic defender, which set the Rams up for the final shot. Scott Waggener then delivered what proved to be the dagger in the heart of the Eagles when he hit a half-court three-pointer as time expired to put the Rams up 7 points. Central Catholic did not look back from there as the Eagles never got closer than 8 points the rest of the way, and ran out of gas against a bigger and faster Central Catholic team.

“We could only play so hard for so long,” Hood River Coach Zach Pauls said of the Rams outscoring the Eagles 27-14 in the final quarter.

Nonetheless, he was impressed with the effort his team showed in squaring off against the odds-on favorites to win the Mount Hood Conference.

“They showed tremendous heart tonight,” he said. “All we have been hearing is how Central Catholic is going to be the best team and our kids just didn’t give up.”

K.C. Christensen led the Eagles with 14 points, while Andy Kennedy had 11 points and Jon Ing added 10 points. Waggener led the Rams with 25 points while Brian Barkdoll pitched in with 19 points, 13 of which came in the second half.

In the early game, the Hood River girls ran through the buzz saw that was the powerhouse Central Catholic full court press.

The Rams pressed early and often as they outscored the Eagles 62-7 over the first three quarters.

The Eagles did not score until 3:05 remained in the first quarter, after Meagan Clark came up with a steal and converted the lay-up.

However, that proved to be the sole first-half highlight for the Eagles as the Rams built a 34-4 halftime lead after a strong effort from Bridget Leineweber.

After the Rams pulled many of their starters in the fourth quarter, the Eagles mounted a drive to keep the final score competitive. Meredith Danko led that effort for the Eagles and finished the game with 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half.

Hood River Coach Phil Hukari hoped that his team is able to put the loss behind them and learn from the strengths of the Rams.

“Did anyone get the number of that Mack truck?” he joked after the game.

He added that Central Catholic showed all the elements of a great team, and hoped that the constant full-court press by the superior Central Catholic squad will help make his team better at breaking it against opponents later in the season.

“They were good…very, very good,” he said. “They showed that they are a dominant team,” he said.

Danko’s 17 points led the Eagles while Audrey Miller led the Rams with 19 points and Dani Klupenger added 10 points.

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