When the season began the Hood River Valley girls basketball team was worried how it was going to replace Angie Titus' presence in the post.
The Eagles can probably stop worrying now after a 44-32 win over Pendleton Tuesday.
Megan Winans tore apart the Pendleton Buckaroos Tuesday evening at Vannet Court. Winans finished with 19 points, with nine of those coming on free throws.
She scored five of her seven fourth-quarter points from the free-throw stripe as the Eagle guards kept feeding her the ball down the stretch, and Pendleton players fouled her repeatedly as she went to the hoop.
"I've definitely been working hard," the senior said. "When we lost Angie it meant somebody was going to have to be the post player."
Winans' effort allowed the Eagles to bounce back from a 74-33 loss at Hermiston to open league play, and return to their style of play.
"We'll take it," said HRV coach Tom Ames. "After all, how many of our wins have been pretty?"
This one did not meet that description. The Eagles led 18-9 at the half, but Pendleton never really went away until the final minutes. The Bucks closed to within five near the end of the third quarter, before Natalya Ames hit a deep three-pointer at the buzzer to push HRV's lead to eight.
Winans helped steady the Eagles in the closing minutes, after Pendleton got within eight again following five consecutive HRV turnovers. Winans went hard to the basket and was fouled for an and-1, which she converted with 3:48 to play to stretch HRV's lead to double digits and all but secure the win.
After the game, Ames spoke highly of the growth he has seen from Winans this year.
"If she gets blocked, she doesn't care," he said. "She just gets the ball and goes right back to the hoop."
The HRV JV girls beat Pendleton 33-30 with Sohphie Oswal scoring 12 points and Alia Burck 11.
The HRV boys fell at Pendleton 85-46. The Eagles got 19 points and six rebounds from Ryan Wheat and 12 points from Cody Walker