Photo by Ben Mitchell
Alexis Ruiz (white jersey) makes a cut around a Damascus defender. Ruiz had her best game of the season, scoring a team-high 11 points.
As of Thursday, December 22, 2016
Horizon’s long stint of home games — so long that the team has yet to play a game on the road this month — came to an end Wednesday afternoon with a home matchup against the Damascus Christian Eagles. Both the girls and the boys teams came out on the wrong end of their contests. The girls lost 54-37 and the boys lost 43-30. The boys (3-3) will look to rebound against Open Door Christian Academy (4-2) on Dec. 27 and the girls (2-4) will look to do the same at Portland Waldorf (0-2) on Dec. 28.
A 7-0 run in the first quarter was all it took for Damascus to pull out ahead and stay out ahead of Horizon Wednesday afternoon at the Hawks nest, as the formidable 4-1 Eagles stifled Horizon’s offense. It was the team’s second-lowest scoring game of the season.
Although Horizon closed the gap a couple times — no more so than when junior Alexis Ruiz came cold off the bench to drop in a three and pull within four — the Hawks were never able to pull ahead or pull even with the Eagles, as Horizon tried to play catchup the entire 32 minutes of play. Ruiz would go on to have her best game of the season, scoring a team high 11 points, which came from three shots from behind the arc and a 2-for-2 effort at the foul line.
Damascus’ defense made life difficult for Horizon, as the Hawks rushed passes and forced shots that weren’t there, resulting in turnovers on which the Eagles were more than willing to capitalize. On offense, Horizon struggled to contain Damascus’ players, who showed patience and excellent ball movement, making multiple passes on nearly every possession.
The Eagles’ advantage stretched to double digits at times, but the Hawks weren’t ready to throw in the towel and a series of buckets by Jodee Hicks and Paulina Finn (eight points each) cut the margin briefly to single digits in the third. Damascus pulled away again in the fourth, stretching the lead to as many as 20 points and dashing any hopes of a Horizon rally.
Damascus proved to be a thorn in Horizon’s side last year, ending the Hawks’ season with one of the earliest postseason exits in years. Early struggles by the Eagles made it seem as if Horizon would get revenge for what happened last year, but a strong second half by Damascus ultimately doomed the Hawks, who had their lowest-scoring game since a 42-29 loss to none other than Damascus Jan. 18, 2016, at the Moda Center.
After early buckets by both teams, Horizon pulled out in front with a 7-0 run to go up 9-5 at the end of the first quarter, and prevented Damascus from scoring a field goal through the first three minutes of the second.
Damascus seemed to shake the dust off and started hitting shots while play got sloppy on both sides of the ball, as both teams committed numerous turnovers that at times devolved into mad scrambles on the Hawks Nest hardwood.
Horizon edged the Eagles by two points at the half, but the tide had turned. Damascus tied that Hawks on the opening shot of the second half then reeled off a string of corner threes that gave the Eagles a 10-point lead with less than three minutes remaining in the quarter. The Hawks were able to trim it to seven thanks to a fast-break basket by Quinn Roetcisoender (team-high nine points) at the end of the third, but Horizon couldn’t manage much more. Damascus spent the majority of the final eight minutes playing keep-away with the Hawks — a strategy that worked.
Horizon played Damascus twice in the regular season last year, but does not have another contest scheduled with the Eagles this season.