After scoring 21 points in the first half and going into the locker room down six to Pendleton, the Hood River Valley girls basketball team thought inside the box for a way to mount a comeback.
A box-and-1 specifically.
With one defender assigned at all times to shadow Pendleton's Gabby Heehn - who torched the Eagles for 11 points in the second quarter - the Eagles mounted an 18-7 swing in the third quarter and routed the Buckaroos in the second half for a 51-36 win.
"We ran it some last year," HRV coach Tom Ames said of the defensive switch. "But we had not practiced it this year."
With Heehn shut down by the Eagles' defense, the Buckaroos (7-7, 0-4 CRC) fell apart under the HRV (9-6, 2-2 CRC) second-half surge.
Pendleton scored only seven points in the second half and went nearly seven minutes without scoring between the final minute of the third quarter and a pair of free-throws with 1:50 to play in the game.
On the offensive the Eagles began aggressively pushing the tempo, with Emily Ing and Jaci Bryant hitting big shots to stretch the HRV lead.
Bryant led all scorers with 21 points, while Ing added 13.
Heehn led the Buckaroos with 14 points - with none of those coming after halftime.
Pendleton clamped down on leading Eagles scorer Angie Titus, limiting her to five points, but the Eagles were able to get other scoring options going.
"It was really nice to see Emily Ing stepping up," Ames said.
While she didn't score as much as usual, the HRV post contributed in other ways on the stat sheet, as did several other HRV role players.
In the final minutes of the third quarter, Pendleton closed to within 35-34 on a three-pointer by Andrea Hellstrand with 40 seconds to go in the quarter.
At the other end of the floor HRV played for the last shot. Emily Metivier received a pass, backed down a defender and then bounced a behind-the-back pass to a cutting Katie White who scored on a spectacular reverse lay-in and was fouled. She missed the ensuing free-throw, but Titus rebounded it and put it back for a five-point HRV lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After having a terrible third quarter against The Dalles-Wahtonka Friday night, Ing said it the second-half run was a good way to recover.
"This was a must-win game so I'm glad we pulled it off," Ing said.
Ing said the struggles in the second half against The Dalles carried over into the first half against Pendleton, but the Eagles snapped out of it in the second half.
"Our energy levels were just down," she said.
With the win HRV moved into second place in the league standings. They played at Hermiston Friday night, and then have Tuesday off before playing at The Dalles next Friday in a key match up for both teams as they jockey for the No. 2 spot in the league standings.
n At Pendleton Tuesday the HRV boys (2-13, 0-4) dropped their 10th straight game and remained winless in league play following a 67-52 loss to the Bucks (10-5, 3-1).