HERMISTON - A slow start by the Horizon Christian School girls basketball team proved too much to overcome, as the Hawks lost to Ione 41-21 in Thursday's first round of the Big Sky playoffs at Hermiston High School.
Meantime, later in the evening, the fourth-ranked Horizon boys team jumped out to a 17-0 lead en route to a 70-36 first-round win against Condon-Wheeler. Horizon played Ione in Friday night's 7:30 p.m. semifinal game.
The Hawk girls, who made a late-season run to qualify for district play, fell behind early in their contest and couldn't recover. Horizon was hurt by turnovers (18 in the game's first 10 minutes) and poor shooting (1-for-13 in the first two periods), which enabled Ione to take a 16-2 halftime lead.
As has been the case late in the season, Horizon battled back.
"We hung in there and made a game of it," coach Stan Perkins said. "I was proud of how we kept battling."
Trista Hicks fueled the Hawk rally with three second-half three-pointers. Horizon cut the lead to 24-18 before Ione regained control and closed with a 17-3 finish.
Hicks led Horizon with 11 points and six rebounds. Joanna Patton scored 13 to lead Ione, which had a 40-29 rebound advantage.
The Hawk boys would need no comeback in their game. Horizon shot 68 percent in the first half to lead 41-11 at the break. Sophomore Matt Totaro scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the first half on 8-of-9 shooting from the field.
"We had a good week of practice and that carried over to tonight's game," coach Darrin Lingel said. "Our senior leaders, Max (Totaro) and Sam (Anthony) have helped us focus on the things we need to do to be successful."
Horizon's combination of half-court and full-court trapping defenses forced Condon-Wheeler into 12 first-half turnovers which led to 19 points. Horizon out-rebounded Condon 45-29 and was led by senior reserve wing Gabe Holste's 12 boards.
"When we out-rebound teams and have good shot selection on offense, we usually win games," Lingel said. "We're looking forward to playing Ione again."
Horizon's first loss this season was a 70-60 setback to the Cardinals in December.