By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
February 3, 2007
The combined release of breath from fans, players and a few nervous timekeepers at the end of Horizon’s 64-52 win over Cascade Locks Tuesday night was probably enough to raise the temperature of the globe a few degrees.
With just over two minutes to play, the scoreboard malfunctioned for the third time in the contest, and stymied all efforts to get it started again.
Eventually the decision was made to play the rest of the game without an active scoreboard and keep the time with a watch.
Considering that Cascade Locks (10-8, 6-5 Big Sky) had just stormed back to take a 50-48 lead, and had hit baskets at the buzzer in each of the first three quarters, the strategy could have been a risky proposition.
However, the Hawks (14-5, 8-3 Big Sky) used the break to re-establish momentum as Adam Ohlson promptly tied the game back up. With that bucket the Hawks were off and running. The Pirates only scored once more the rest of the way – a Dan Nolin lay-up to cut the gap to 55-52, and Ohlson blocked a Derek Kelly shot in the closing minute to keep the Hawks ahead by a comfortable margin.
“Adam was huge,” Horizon coach Ron Haynes said. “We’ve got him coming off the bench so full of energy.”
Bobby Cofrances led the Hawks with 27 points, but was unable to get untracked for most of the first half as the Cascade Locks’ defense, with the inside presence of Chris Taylor, kept the Hawks off balance and prevented them from driving into the lane.
Taylor got into foul trouble in the second half, however, allowing Horizon to open up its offense.
“We wanted to pound the ball in down low, especially when (Taylor) was out,” Haynes said.
It was not until Taylor was on the bench that the strategy began to bear fruit. Until that point, the Hawks and Pirates traded leads, with neither squad able to firmly secure momentum.
Horizon started the game strong, but Cascade Locks roared back and took the lead into the second quarter with a buzzer-beating put-back by Kyle Prowett. Late in the second quarter Root and Cofrances began to warm up, but Kelly and Derrick Harbaugh also began to heat up for the Pirates, and the Pirates got another buzzer-beating shot, this time from Dan Nolin, to get within 26-25 at the half.
Midway through the third quarter the clock gave an omen of things to come when it stopped working for several minutes. After the stoppage it looked as though Cascade Locks might break the game open until Taylor had to go to the bench with 22 seconds remaining in the quarter with foul trouble.
Pirates coach Phil Nolin was happy with the effort his big man provided, but felt he was at a disadvantage because of his size when it came to getting calls in his favor.
“I though he should have been at the (free throw) line a lot more,” Nolin said. “But big guys don’t get the calls.”
The clock again caused troubles when it erased the final 20 seconds of the third quarter, which nonetheless did not stop the Pirates from hitting another buzzer-beating shot at the real buzzer to take a 45-44 lead into the fourth.
Harbaugh and Kelly continued their hot shooting through the early part of the fourth while Horizon began to go cold from the field, but continued to hang around until they took the game over after the final shot clock malfunction.
While some found the absence of running clock and score to be disconcerting in the game’s closing moments, Cofrances actually felt it helped him relax.
“I think it was nice not having the clock,” he said. “You just played your game and played your best.”
For the Hawks, the win all but secures them no less than the second seed in the districts at the end of the season.
For the Pirates, the loss could leave them on the outside looking in. A win would have vaulted Cascade Locks into second place, with a tie-breaker over the Hawks; however, the loss leaves them two games back and in a fight for a playoff spot.
“This one hurts,” Nolin said. “But they earned it.”
Harbaugh, the Pirates’ second leading scorer with 12 points, knows that the Pirates need to finish games and finish their season strong.
“It was their defense getting a hand up in our face and altering our passes,” he said. “Hopefully now we win on Friday.”
Kelly led the Pirates with 15 points, while Nolin added 9 points and Taylor contributed 7 points. The Hawks also got 19 points from Root and 7 points from Jake Johnson.
The two teams are now heading in opposite directions as the Hawks have won five straight, and the Pirates have lost four in a row.
However, that does not mean the Hawks are ready to slow down, nor that the Pirates are ready to give up.
“Every night in the Big Sky is a war,” Haynes said. “With Cascade Locks it is doubly so.”