Horizon boys place third at Big Sky tourney

Hawks play Damascus Christian in first-round playoff game Wednesday night

The Horizon boys basketball team’s route through the post-season this year has been somewhat of an unusual one compared to past seasons, but the Hawks are still hanging tough and still in the playoff mix.

After the dust settled at the Big Sky district tournament, which was held at Madras High School this past weekend, the boys finished third, just squeaking into the Round of 24 portion of the OSAA 1A state basketball championship after holding off the Dufur Rangers, 59-56, in the third-place game of the Big Sky tourney Saturday.

The Hawks were relegated to the third-place game after having the misfortune of drawing the second-ranked Sherman Huskies in the first round of the tournament Friday, which the Huskies won 72-48. Sherman would later go on to defeat South Wasco County, 37-33, in the championship game to claim the Big Sky title.

Horizon’s loss on Friday was the first for the team in the Big Sky tourney since the 2009-10 season, when the Hawks lost to the Ione Cardinals, 58-56, in the opening round. The Huskies, who swept the Big Sky Conference this season, made quick work of the Hawks, roaring out to a 33-12 lead by halftime, and leading the game by as many as 30 points. Horizon was more competitive in the second half, only getting outscored 22-18 in the third and outscoring Sherman 18-17 in the final quarter, but the lead was too large for the Hawks to overcome.

The Hawks’ shooting from the field wasn’t much different than Horizon’s (46 percent versus 47 percent), but Sherman was able to take nearly twice as many shots, giving the Huskies more opportunities to cash in on offense.

Leading the way for Horizon was Jared Bryan, who had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Luke Holste also cracked the double-digits with 10. Derek Johnston and Ian Walker also had good nights, putting up nine and eight points, respectively.

Saturday’s game against Dufur was a bit of a nail-biter for the Hawks. After trading baskets with the Rangers that put the two squads at 13-all after the first quarter, Horizon went on a 10-2 run to start the quarter and led 35-20 at the half. The Rangers, however, gradually worked their way back into contention, outscoring Horizon 14-11 in the third quarter thanks to a 10-0 run and then inching their way closer. With 41 seconds remaining in the game, Dufur had turned Horizon’s 15-point advantage into a one-possession game, trailing 58-56.

With 23 seconds left, Johnston was fouled on a two-point shot, making one of his two free throws, forcing Dufur to shoot threes if they wanted to tie the game. With seven seconds left, Dufur attempted a three-pointer to force the game into overtime, but it wouldn’t land. The Rangers collected the rebound, but couldn’t get off another shot before time expired, giving Horizon the win. It was the first time the Hawks defeated Dufur this season, having previously lost to the Rangers by double-digit margins twice this year.

Bryan had a team-high 19 points and was second in rebounding, with six boards (Ethan Evans had seven boards, as well as seven points), as well as tallying two assists, a block and three steals. Johnston was next with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and three steals, and Cody Lingel also had a double with 10 points. The team had one of its best shooting performances of the season, going 22-for-36 on total field goals (61 percent), but oddly, had a worse night on the foul line, going 12-for-21 (57 percent).

With a third-place finish in the tourney, No. 15 Horizon Christian plays No. 3 Damascus Christian Wednesday night at 6 in Damascus in the first round of the OSAA 1A state tournament. Damascus, representing The Valley 10 League, lost only two of its 24 regular season games this year, but one of those was to Horizon — a 66-62 decision that Damascus lost on its own court Jan. 25. Horizon lost 42-29 to Damascus in the two teams’ other game Jan. 18, which was played at the Moda Center.

The winner of Wednesday’s game will play Sherman on Saturday in a second-round game at a time yet to be determined.

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