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Hawks wing to first state berth

By BEN MCCARTY

News staff writer

February 21, 2007

It took some clutch performances from role players, one big game from Bobby Cofrances, and a little luck, but the Horizon Hawks are on the way to state for the first time in school history.

After beating Helix Thursday night, the Hawks held off Nixyaawii in the district semi-final game on Friday 44-42 after the Golden Eagles’ Mason Foster missed a free throw and his teammates could not make two tip-in attempts as time expired.

On Saturday, the Hawks were able to beat big Sky-West regular season champion South Wasco for the second time this year to claim the No. 1 seed and get a by through the state play-in round.

The Hawks will now be hosting a game Friday night at Hood River Valley High School against the winner of Tuesday night’s game between Columbia Christian and Prospect.

“We felt very confident coming into the South Wasco game,” Horizon coach Ron Haynes said. “We felt we could pull it off.”

By pulling off the win in the district tournament, the Hawks have come a long way since they entered the Big Sky in 2002.

In their first year in the conference the Hawks went 2-21, followed by a 4-19 finish in the 2003-04 season. In the following two years, things began to turn around. The Hawks went 14-12 in 2004-05, and 18-7 last season. This year Cameron Root and Cofrances have risen to fill the shoes of departed 1st team all league player Jared Nagreen by both being named the league’s first team, and guiding the squad in a school record 13-game winning streak.

In addition to being named to the all-league team, Cofrances also received the Halvorsen Award, given to a player who best represents on-court ability and off-court character in the Big Sky League.

In the final two games of the tournament, it was not the team’s two scoring leaders who made the difference, but the team’s bench that came through in a big way.

Against Nixyaawii, the Golden Eagles focused their defense on Cofrances, clearing the way for 13 points from Jake Johnson and nine points each from Josh Larson and Adam Ohlson. In the championship game the Redsides also keyed on Cofrances and Root, holding Cofrances to 15 points and Root to 14 points, while Johnson and Larson came up with 6 points each.

“Going in we really emphasized to kids what their roles are,” Haynes said. “And they each played their roles.”

As they wait to find out who they will play, the Hawks are fitting in practice times at Hood River Valley and recovering from playing three games in three days at the district tournament.

“We look a little tired today but we’ll be ready,” Cofrances said at the team’s Wednesday practice.

For Root and the team’s seniors, the four-year journey from 4-19 to state qualifiers represent four years’ worth of work paying off.

“We’ve proved to everyone that we are the best team in the league,” Root said. “Now everybody needs to do their thing and we can’t make mistakes.”

With a few extra days to prepare, the opportunity to host a playoff game instead of traveling to eastern or southern reaches of the state, Haynes intends to have his team ready to go no matter who they play on Friday.

“We’ll be ready to roll,” he said.

Friday night’s game will also be carried on the radio by 1340 KIHR.

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