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Pioneers deal HRV girls tough blows

By BEN MCCARTY

News staff writer

February 7, 2007

The loss at the end of the loss may have been the cruelest of all for the Hood River Valley girls’ basketball team.

Just over two minutes to play in a 52-43 loss to Sandy, Eagles post Brianne Rowley went to the floor with an ankle injury, possibly ending her season, and likely any hope for the Eagles to sneak into the state playoffs as well.

“She had the knee (in volleyball season) and now it’s the other ankle,” Hood River Coach Phil Hukari said. “This is definitely not what we wanted.”

Rowley scored 12 points, the last two of which coming on the driving lay-up that led to her injury, to lead the Eagles, and her presence in the middle will be sorely missed by an Eagles team that has struggled to find offensive consistency throughout the season.

The Eagles (4-14, 2-9 MHC) hung with the Pioneers (7-14, 4-8 MHC) in a foul- and turnover- filled first half in which both teams reached the double bonus. Neither side was able to pull away from the other as several players got into foul trouble in the first half. Sandy was able to take a 23-19 lead into halftime largely thanks to free throws and converting more turnovers than the Eagles.

Meredith Danko led a Hood River run in third quarter but the Eagles could not get the lead as fouls and turnovers continued to hamper either team’s effort to gain momentum.

In the fourth, Rowley’s lay-up with 2:19 to play cut the lead to 44-41 but her injury seemed to deflate the Eagles and the three-point margin was as close as they would come the rest of the way as Sandy went to the free throw line repeatedly to close the game out.

We played hard,” Hukari said. “But losing Brianne is going to hurt.”

The Eagles are still mathematically alive in the hunt for the playoffs, sitting two games behind Centennial for the fifth and final state playoff berth in the Mount Hood Conference. However in order to get in the Eagles would need to win at least four of their final five games and have Sandy, David Douglas and Centennial lose out. Furthermore, the only loss in those four games would have to be to Central Catholic, as a loss to any of the other four opponents would likely eliminate Hood River.

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