It may only be February, but local basketball fans were treated to a March Madness style basketball game that featured two of the top 1A teams in the state.
With first place in the Big Sky Conference up for grabs, it was the home team Sherman Huskies, who stifled a high-scoring Horizon Christian squad holding them to two field goals in the fourth quarter, as they reeled off a 63-56 victory Tuesday in Moro.
"This was just a great high school basketball game," Sherman coach Mike Somnis said. "Playing in a game like this will benefit this team as we head to the playoffs. They faced adversity all night, were behind by a big margin against a great Horizon team, and battled back. It was just a tremendous team effort."
This matchup had a little bit of everything with big momentum swings, spirited play and a frenetic pace ruling the night.
After a slow start, the Hawks grabbed control with a 20-4 run in the final six minutes of the second quarter to lead 38-27 at halftime.
Although Sherman did bounced back in third, outscoring Horizon 18-12, the first-place Hawks still maintained a 50-45 cushion entering the fourth quarter.
That final stand was one of epic proportions, as Sherman gradually chipped away at the lead, and even turned the tables with less than four minutes to remaining.
With the Huskies down 53-51, Kyle Burnett drained 1-of-2 charity shots, missing the second attempt.
Zach Smith grabbed the offensive rebound, missed his putback and Jon Carcedo grabbed the loose change and was fouled.
Carcedo, who scored eight points in the fourth, drained both attempts and the Huskies were ahead 54-53.
Horizon missed on its next possession, and Sherman missed on its ensuing time up court.
With 2:36 to go, Smith swiped the ball from a Horizon guard, and Sherman then slowed things down, before Smith was fouled on a shot attempt.
Smith made 1-of-2 shots to run the count to 55-53 with 1:56 left in regulation.
Horizon coach Darrin Lingel then drew up a play on a timeout, but the Huskies had other plans, as Burnett grabbed a steal.
On the possession, Riley Brown found an open Burnett on the baseline and he swished a short jumper to give the Huskies a 57-53 advantage.
The Hawks then missed their next two shots, and the Huskies made good on 1-of-4 free throws to make the score 58-53.
The turnover bug then bit the Hawks again with Stroud grabbing the steal with 48 seconds left, and he made both attempts.
Finally, Horizon ended a 4:02 dry spell on a 3-pointer by Jordan Andersen to make the score 60-56 with 13.6 left.
Horizon had the ball twice more, committing one turnover, Stroud sank 3-of-4 free throws, and the comeback was complete.
Lingel said his group executed its offense well in the opening 16 minutes with 15 field goals, but resorted to one-on-one basketball in the second half, leading to their demise.
"We did not move the ball and some of these guys lost trust in their teammates in terms of giving it to an open teammate for a better look," Lingel said. "That is something we have to clean up, along with our ball handling and rebounding. We let them out-muscle us a bit down low and we can't have that if we intend on winning some games."
Andersen was the only player to hit a field goal in the fourth quarter, and in the second half only four players made baskets.
Sam Anthony had 11 points, Tanner Petit chipped in eight, and sharpshooter Max Totaro scored seven for Horizon
"We knew we were better than how we played in the first half," Carcedo said. "We came out more fired up in the second half and we had more energy on defense to stop them. We were more, how you say, unified, and played with passion. It will give us more confidence this win."
Carcedo finished with 19 points, and Smith doled out 17, with 11 coming in the first half. Stroud had 13, and Burnett ended up with nine points for Sherman, which rattled home 13-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Sherman has one tough test left in a road date against Echo at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Horizon hosts South Wasco County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.