The Horizon boys basketball team is peaking just in time for the upcoming district playoffs. The No. 15 Hawks (9-11, 6-5 Big Sky) played with the intensity level of a playoff team in a 60-52 win over the Arlington Honkers (8-14, 2-9) Friday at Horizon Christian School.
The Hawks were unable to sustain their high level of play, though, and lost on the road 53-40 Saturday to the Dufur Rangers (11-9, 8-4). The Hawks were hoping to bounce back and get a win Tuesday in Maupin against the fifth-ranked South Wasco Redsides (results unavailable at press time).
“Horizon has dominated the Big Sky Conference for such a long time, so when all the teams see us limping now, they really love it,” said Horizon Head Coach Samuel Trevino. “It’s good for us, because we’re trying to learn that you can’t take a night off against anybody and there are no easy games. Every team wants to prove how good they are and they’re always playing their best to beat us. Arlington really gave us fight and they’re an awesome group of kids that plays very well together. They’ve lost a lot of close games this year and that’s the only thing that prevented them from going to districts.”
Horizon’s win over Arlington allowed the Hawks to officially clinch a district playoff berth, as the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-place teams in the Big Sky Conference (Arlington, Mitchell/Spray, Ione), all have 2-9 league records and can’t catch the Hawks. Teams must finish sixth-place or higher in the league to qualify for the district playoffs Feb. 19-20 at Madras.
Against Arlington, the Hawks encountered a seesaw battle that was tied four times and had eight lead changes. Horizon broke a 10-10 first quarter deadlock, outscoring the Honkers 20-14 in the second to take a 30-24 halftime advantage. Arlington trimmed the margin to 43-39 after three quarters. Led by freshman forward Derek Johnston (18 points) and junior guard Ethan Evans (13 points), Horizon outscored Arlington 17-13 in the fourth to get the victory.
“There’s never an easy day in the Big Sky Conference,” said Trevino. “Arlington played well and they’re a better team than their record indicates. It was a great game by Derek and our starters, who are all starting to mesh well. We’re working on winning the rebounding battle every game, but we slipped a little (outrebounded 27-24) against Arlington.”
Horizon’s offense was sharp as the Hawks shot 19-for-35 (54 percent) from the field and they were 5-for-10 (50 percent) from the three-point arc. It marked the fourth time this season that Horizon scored 60 or more points.
On Saturday, Dufur (8-4, 11-9) came out with a strong first quarter, outscoring Horizon 18-7 to build an early double-digit advantage. Dufur continued leading by 11, up 31-20 at halftime. The Rangers extended their lead to 41-28 after three and the teams traded points in the fourth with both adding 12 points to their scoring output for the final margin. Ian Walker led Horizon in scoring with 19 points and Johnston had 14.
“We had a first-quarter deficit that we just couldn’t overcome and we just weren’t executing too well,” said Trevino. “We fell behind by 13 at one point and then we fought back to get within three, but Dufur played a great game and they were able to pull away at the end. Our guys fought hard, they battled and they gave it everything they had, but they were exhausted at the end of the game.”
Horizon travels to meet the Mitchell-Spray Loggers (7-13, 2-9) Friday at 6:30 p.m., followed by the final regular season home game versus the Ione Cardinals (3-16, 2-9) Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Horizon girls close in on playoff berth
The Horizon girls basketball team has almost clinched a district playoff spot after getting a split of weekend contests. The Hawks (8-12, 5-6), dropped a tough matchup at home Friday 43-29 to the Arlington Honkers (14-8, 7-4). Horizon responded well, though, and came back on Saturday to get a 28-20 road win over the Dufur Rangers (6-14, 5-7).
Horizon, is now tied for fourth place in the standings with the South Wasco Redsides (10-10, 5-6). The two squads played a key matchup Tuesday at South Wasco High in Maupin in which the winner gets sole possession of fourth place (results unavailable at press time). Horizon is seeking to reach the district playoffs for the first time since 2012.
“We stayed with Arlington for three quarters, but our downfall was free-throw shooting,” said Horizon Head Coach Brian Stevens. “We were down just four in the fourth quarter, but we couldn’t make a free throw. Arlington simply outhustled us. They are a well-coached team and they box out well on every play. Dufur is a very fundamentally sound team, but we overcame a slow start to get the win. Jodee Hicks dominated in the paint defensively, Paulina Finn made some key buckets down the stretch and Haley Becnel played tough defense to help lead us to the victory. Chantelle Carter played tough too and she wreaked havoc on defense and forced a number of turnovers.”
In Friday’s game versus Arlington, Horizon shot just 3-for-22 (13 percent) from the free-throw line. Hicks had an impressive performance as she had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots. Finn (three points five rebounds), Horizon’s leading scorer this season, was sick with the flu on Friday and didn’t really have enough energy to play against Arlington, Stevens said.
Horizon turned things around on Saturday versus Dufur, with a much better overall performance. The Hawks improved from the line, while shooting 7-for-9 (77 percent). Finn led the Hawks with 13 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Hicks had nine points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. Jasmine Stevens had eight rebounds and three blocks. Becnel had four points and four steals.
Following Tuesday’s contest, Horizon has two regular season games remaining, starting with a 5 p.m. road game Friday against the Mitchell/Spray Loggers (4-16, 1-10). The Hawks then play their final regular season home game Saturday with a 4 p.m. home game against the Ione Cardinals (12-7, 9-2).