Laura Waller scores two of her career high 19 points against Cleveland, Dec. 7, 2012.
The Hood River Valley girls basketball team got to let out a big sigh of relief at the end of its home opener Friday night against Cleveland.
After seeing what had been an 11-point lead disappear late in the third quarter, and then an eight-point lead turn into a one-point deficit with less than a minute to play, the Eagles had to hold their breath into the final seconds of a 56-55 victory.
Up by a point following a Laura Waller lay-up with 30 seconds to go, the Eagles missed three-consecutive free throws attempting to put the game away.
The Warriors had a chance to go for a win at the buzzer but Hallie Curtis stripped the ball from Lydia Snodderly just before time ran out to preserve the win.
Waller scored a career-high 19 points to lead the Eagles, who also got a double-double from sophomore forward Kelsey Wells and a few clutch three-pointers from senior guard Natalia Ames.
“Laura had a great game tonight,” said HRV coach Tom Ames. “This was a breakout night for her”
The Eagles came out firing in the first quarter, and quickly built a lead up to double digits behind some hot shooting from Waller, who knocked down a pair of first-quarter three-pointers.
“It was my first home game starting varsity and I was really excited,” she said.
Centennial adjusted at both ends of the floor in the second quarter and the Eagles quickly found themselves in foul trouble.
By the end of the night the Eagles had collected 19 fouls, with Wells and fellow post Sophia Oswald fouling out in the closing minutes.
The Warriors began leaning heavily on 6-footer Emily Rommel in the second half, with the junior scoring 13 of her 18 points in the half.
They slowly chipped away at the HRV lead until Antonia Washington tied at 38-38 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Cleveland rally woke up the Eagles, who quickly got the lead back and stretched it to eight points with 3:30 to play in the game.
However they could not put the Warriors away and Cleveland again came storming back. Washington, Snodderly and Rommel combined to again wipe out the Eagle lead and a Washington layup with 50 seconds left gave the Warriors their first lead of the game.
It did not last long.
On the Eagles’ next possession, Ames found Waller open at the post and Waller converted the layup for a one-point Eagle advantage.
Waller missed an ensuing free throw, and Hallie Curtis missed a pair the next time down the floor for HRV, giving Cleveland one more chance with six seconds left.
“You can lead a horse to water…” Ames said of the Eagles’ chances to put the game away from the free-throw stripe. “It is what it is.”
Snodderly brought the ball up the floor and Curtis met her at the three-point line at the Eagles’ end. Snodderly tried to cross over to go inside, but found the patch blocked by Ames.
When she tried to cross back over to the outside, Curtis knocked the ball loose and the clock ran out as both teams scrambled for possession.
The win may not have been pretty but it did allow the Eagles to move to 3-1 with their third straight victory in the young season.
“It’s still a bit rough,” Waller said of the team’s play. “But we pulled it together today.”
The Eagles were set to host St. Helens Tuesday night and then play Franklin at home Friday night.
The Eagles beat the Quakers 60-25 at the Sandy Tournament earlier this season.