Horizon grabs big Big Sky wins

That familiar swagger and confidence has returned for the five-time defending Big Sky Conference Champion Horizon Christian Hawks boys basketball team. After getting two blowout wins over the weekend, the Hawks will now begin the second half of their Big Sky Conference season with the momentum they’ll need for what they’re hoping will be another successful Class 1A district playoff run in February.

The No. 20 Hawks (6-9, 4-3 Big Sky) won 55-29 at home Friday over the Mitchell-Spray Loggers (6-10, 1-6). The Hawks continued playing with a high energy level on the road Saturday and recorded their highest-scoring point total this year in a 62-33 blowout win over the Ione Cardinals (3-12, 2-5).

“We’ve been working hard in practice to improve offensively and defensively,” said Horizon Head Coach Sam Trevino. “We’ve fine-tuned our defensive schemes, we’re executing offensive plays and we’ve really improved our press too. The team is really firing on all cylinders right now and the boys are starting to feed off the momentum that we’ve established now. The boys are having fun and they’re able to see some of the fruits of their labor now on the basketball court. They’re executing effectively on offense and they’re moving the ball around effectively.”

Kameron Brown scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help lead the Hawks to the win over the Loggers. Jared Bryan scored in double figures with 11 points and had a game-high seven steals for the Hawks, who had a total of 24 steals.

The Hawks led 13-7 after one quarter and then outscored the Loggers 16-7 in the second to take a commanding 29-14 double digit halftime lead. Horizon scored in double digits in all four quarters, while their solid defense limited Mitchell-Spray to single digit scoring in every quarter.

Horizon had a similar overall outstanding offensive and defensive performance again on Saturday at Ione. Led by Ian Walker (18 points, 13 rebounds), the Hawks took control from the outset of the contest while building an insurmountable 23-5 advantage after the first quarter. Horizon maintained its momentum for the remainder of the game, leading 36-13 at halftime and then extending its lead to 50-19 after three quarters.

Brown (eight points, seven assists, four steals), Ethan Evans (13 points) and Luke Holste (eight points) helped contribute to the Hawks’ impressive scoring. The 29-point margin of victory was Horizon’s largest this year. Horizon dominated Ione in every statistical category, including a 39-24 rebounding advantage. Horizon had a good offensive rhythm with a total of 20 assists, while Ione had just one assist. The Hawks shot 22-for-46 (48 percent) from the field and they shot 5-for-13 (38 percent) from the three-point line.

Horizon will seek to capture its third-straight league win when it meets the Condon/Wheeler Knights (7-9, 3-4) Friday in a 7:30 p.m. home game, followed by a 5:30 p.m. road game against the league-leading and 1A four-seed Sherman Huskies (7-0, 12-4) on Saturday in Moro. At the midway point of the season, Horizon is in fourth place in the Big Sky.

Horizon girls win third-straight home game

The Horizon Christian Hawks girls basketball team captured its third-straight Big Sky home win with a 40-33 victory over Mitchell/Spray Friday. Horizon then got a split of weekend games after losing a close contest on the road, 33-30, to the Ione Cardinals on Saturday.

Horizon (6-9, 3-4 Big Sky) is currently in a three-way tie for fourth place with South Wasco (8-8, 3-4) and Sherman (3-11, 3-4) in the standings at the midway point of the 14-game conference schedule. Horizon begins the second half schedule with a 5 p.m. home game Friday versus the No. 6 Condon-Wheeler Knights (15-2, 6-4), followed by a 4 p.m. contest Saturday against Sherman in Moro.

“We played a really good game against a strong Ione team and it was for the first time in a long time a very meaningful game that we had a chance to win,” said Horizon Head Coach Brian Stevens, who is hoping to lead Horizon to the Big Sky playoffs for the first time since 2012. “We should’ve won against Ione and we should’ve won against Sherman a couple of weeks ago (a 38-33 loss Jan. 8). We could have a 5-2 league record, instead of a 3-4 record. It’s good to see that the girls are learning how to win, though, and we have a good outlook about what we can accomplish in the second half of the season.”

The trio of Paulina Finn (14 points, 10 rebounds), Kaitlin Wenz (seven points, 14 rebounds), and Jodee Hicks (12 points, 12 rebounds) combined to help lead the Hawks to the win over the Loggers (3-13, 0-7). It marked the third time this year that the Hawks scored 40 or more points.

On Saturday, Horizon faced the tough Ione Cardinals (9-6, 6-1) and the Hawks nearly pulled off a big upset win, but just came up a little short. Horizon led 5-1 early in the first quarter and the Hawks built an 18-12 halftime lead. Horizon remained ahead after three quarters, but Ione made a fourth quarter comeback to get the lead.

The Hawks had a chance to tie the game with a possession with 17 seconds left, but they were unable to get into position for a possible game-tying three-pointer. A key aspect that hurt the Hawks was that they struggled at the free throw line while shooting just 5-for-17 (29 percent). Finn (10 points, eight rebounds), Hicks (eight points, 10 rebounds) and Wenz (seven points, 14 rebounds) again had strong performances.

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