League records may not mean much anymore in terms of playoff qualifications, but that doesn't mean the Hood River Valley girls basketball team would not like a few wins in the closing weeks of the season.
The Eagles saw a furious comeback fall just short against Pendleton Friday night after a turnover-plagued first three quarters put them in a big hole and fell 37-33. They took some of that frustration out on The Dalles-Wahtonka Monday night in The Dalles to regain some momentum.
With her team struggling through a four-game losing streak, which put them in a tie for last place, Hood River Valley senior Megan Winans put the Eagles on her shoulders to get them back on course.
Winans scored a game-high 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots in leading Hood River Valley to a 43-26 win over No. 6-ranked The Dalles-Wahtonka Monday night at Kurtz Gym.
The win draws the Eagles to within one game of second place, with four contests remaining.
"We knew this was a pivotal game," said Winans. "We were on a cold streak and we needed this win to turn it around. Losing wasn't really an option for us, so it is definitely good to get that winning feeling again."
Hood River outscored TDW in every quarter of play, expanding on a 15-12 halftime lead with a game-changing 17-6 spurt in the third quarter to put the Eagle-Indians away.
Winans scored four of her points in the third, but teammate Logan Bailey fueled the Eagles' dominance with six consecutive points on a basket and a foul shot and a 3-pointer in the first two minutes to increase the Eagle lead to 23-12 with six minutes left.
Bailey wound up with 11 points, and Natalia Ames chipped in with six. Katie White and Burke added five points each for the Eagles (9-9 overall, 2-5 league), who shot 15-of-44 for the game, but drained 10-of-21 shots in the second half.
"It was a little bit of everything that helped us tonight," Winans said. "We had a lot better energy. We knew we had to come out from the very first minute and score. Our shots were able to drop, which was nice."
While Hood River enjoyed success on the offensive end, its defense proved to work fits on TDW (10-8, 3-4), forcing them into a 10-of-51 shooting performance.
Emily Bailey was the lone TDW player to hit double figures, as she finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.
The effort was a marked contrast to Friday, where the Eagles struggled mightily against the Pendleton Buckaroos for three quarters.
The Eagles trailed by 11 at the half and 12 after three quarters as they turned the ball over repeatedly. When they were able to get the ball up the floor, they missed numerous good looks at the basket.
Things finally started going HRV's way midway through the final period. The Eagles trailed by as much as 13 after Pendleton's Courtney Shchumacher-Sweek buried a wide-open three with 6:30 to go, but the Eagles began to chip away. Bailey came up with several strong takes to the bucket to cut the lead to six with 2:45 left.
Wild swings in the closing minutes saw both teams try desperately to hand the win to the other side.
A perfect example came with two minutes left. Winans came up with a steal but tripped as she ran down court, turning the ball back over to Pendleton. The Bucks promptly were called for traveling. The Eagles then reciprocated by throwing away the inbounds pass.
The Eagles still managed to close within four at 34-30 on a pair of Kate White free throws with 1:30 to play. The teams went back to scrambling and neither side scored again until a Burck lay-up with 18 seconds left cut the margin to two.
A Pendleton free throw pushed it to three as the Eagles prepared for a last possession with 10 seconds left. Bailey tossed a three-point attempt and drew a foul with four seconds left. She missed the first, hit the second and then intentionally missed the third.
Winans and a Pendleton player both went for the ball and hit the floor as the ball rolled out of bounds. The ball was awarded to Pendleton with two seconds left as HRV coach Tom Ames argued and HRV fans booed, but to no avail as the Bucks hung on for the win.
The Eagles and Eagle-Indians hit the floor again at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, where second place is up for grabs.