In the battle of Horizon Christian School vs. Horizon Christian School, the Hawks won.
Two teams with the same exact same school name and mascot got together for their first-ever meeting Tuesday in Hood River. Thankfully their uniforms were different colors.
Horizon Christian (15-8, 10-2 3A West Valley) of Tualatin, a highly regarded 3A team, rolled past Horizon Christian (19-3, 10-2 1A Big Sky) of Hood River 67-52 in Hood River in a late-season non-league match-up designed to prepare both teams for the stretch run of the season.
"We've been trying to get together for the last few years," said Horizon Christian (Tualatin) coach Dave Brown. "It finally came together."
It also came together on the court for Tualatin-based Horizon Christian, which has no affiliation with the Hood River School. Wyatt Houston and Michael Loomis both had 15 points for the Tualatin Hawks while Calvin Anderson and Cameron Eggar each had 10. Matt Totaro led the Hood River Hawks with 17 points, with Mason Bloomster adding 12 and Max Totaro 11.
The Hood River Hawks were already facing a daunting challenge heading into the game, facing a school two classifications larger with a lineup filled with 6½-footers. The challenge got even greater when Hood River 6'7 post Jake Wells was sent home with flu-like symptoms before the game.
While his presence may have slowed the Tualatin attack somewhat, once the Tualatin Hawks got rolling, they were hard to stop.
The two Hawk teams were tied only once - at 2-2, before Tualatin rolled off an 18-0 run which had Hood River back on its heels.
"They were a little shell-shocked," said Horizon Hood River coach Darrin Lingel. "We maybe gave them too much respect at the start."
The Hawks only managed one field goal in the first quarter after a Matt Totaro jumper evened it at two - a Sam Anthony jumper in the closing seconds of the quarter.
The Hood River Hawks attempted to mount a rally in the second quarter.
A put-back by Mason Bloomster with 3:30 to play in the period pulled Hood River within 11 points a 24-13. That would be as close as they would get, though. Tualatin responded with a 14-5 run to end the quarter and stretch the lead to 20.
They punctuated the run with a three-pointer by Cameron Egger with 30 seconds left, followed by a rebound by Parker Belan after a Hood River miss which was turned into a full-court pass for a lay-in by Wyatt Houston in the closing seconds of the half.
Tualatin continued to pour it on after halftime, stretching their lead to as big as 28 in the third quarter.
Leading by 25 heading into the fourth quarter, Tualatin brought in their bench, and Hood River was able to make the final score more respectable as both sides' reserves battled it out.
Bloomster acquitted himself well in the fourth quarter for the Hood River Hawks, scoring eight of his 12 in the period.
"He played really well on both sides of the ball," Lingel said.
The Hood River Hawks nearly equaled their scoring output for the rest of the game in the fourth, scoring 23 of their 52 points.
Tualatin comes out of the game now having won 13 of its last 15, and having most of its team healthy for the stretch run. Brown said he took this game as a good sign everything was coming together just right for his team.
"We're hoping," he said. "This would be a good time to put everything together."
In the Hood River Horizon Christian locker room, meanwhile, the Hawks were turning their focus to the immediate task at hand - closing out the season strong with the hope that a win at Sherman County Friday could send them into the Big Sky district playoff with the No. 1 seed in the west division.
"We talked tonight about going out and playing hard," Lingel said. "Then whatever happens, happens."
The Hawks are guaranteed no worse than second in the West after sweeping Condon-Wheeler and Dufur over the weekend, giving them a three-game lead and tie-breaker over both South Wasco and Arlington, who were both three games back with three to go heading into Wednesday.
The Hawks had to scrap to get into that position, though.
In a matchup that was crucial to their aspirations of winning the Big Sky West Division title, the No. 1-ranked Horizon Christian Hawks boys basketball team needed a win over the Condon Wheeler Knights in order to keep pace with the league-leading Sherman Huskies (18-3, 10-1 Big Sky). A loss in any of their last five games would probably eliminate the Hawks from title contention.
In the fourth quarter, it appeared that a much-needed win was definitely in jeopardy, though, for the Hawks led just 39-35 with five minutes remaining in the key contest last Friday at Horizon Christian High School. An 8-0 Hawks run in which they hit clutch shots and made key free throws down the stretch helped propel Horizon to a 47-40 victory over the Knights (10-10, 7-5 Big Sky East).
"I need to give them (Condon Wheeler) credit for playing such a great game and they're a pretty good team," said Lingel. "They have a talented group of kids, led by Nick Shaffer (eight pts.), who is an outstanding player. There's some things we need to improve on, such as offensive rebounding and doing a better job of taking care of the ball. It seems like we're kind of in a little slump right now and that's something that every team has at some point of the season."
Both squads played a tough 2-3 zone defense in a low-scoring opening quarter. Sam Anthony's (12 points) jumper gave the Hawks a 10-6 edge after one. Up 12-10 in the second, Lingel called a timeout with 6:27 left until halftime and he switched to man-to-man defense. The teams traded baskets the remainder of the quarter, as HC led 20-18 at the break.
"Our tempo was off, we didn't really have any rhythm and it seemed like we just were not playing with a high energy level," said Lingel, whose squad scored way below its average of 66.3 ppg, third among 72 Class 1A teams. "Changing to man-to-man defense kind of helped get us going and it seemed to be more effective, but they (CW) still got some good shots."
Senior point guard Max Totaro (seven points) helped get the Hawks going offensively early in the third as he fired in a three-pointer from the corner, making it 23-18. The Hawks then went over three minutes without a basket, while CW had just one free throw, making it 23-19.
"They (CW) took me out of my game a little with their tough zone, because they were often guarding me near midcourt," said Totaro. "I was hoping the three would've helped give us a little momentum. I have no disrespect for Condon Wheeler, because they're a good team, but if we would've played as well as we're capable of playing then we should've won by over 20 points."
Horizon's physical and aggressive defense held CW to just two field goals in the third quarter and a post move by Horizon's 6-foot-7 junior post Jake Wells (18 points) gave the Hawks a 33-25 advantage after three. Wells was nearly unstoppable in the final eight minutes as he scored 10 of the Hawks' 14 total points in the fourth quarter.
A post move by Wells who powered his way to the hoop around the 6-3 Shaffer, capped an 8-0 run, giving the Hawks a comfortable 47-35 margin with 1:54 remaining. Wells sank four free throws and Anthony dropped in two from the line in the game-clinching rally
The Hawks then rode the momentum into Dufur the next night and hammered the Rangers 78-47 to clinch no worse than second place in the standings.