The Horizon Christian boys basketball team had what was undoubtedly its most impressive win of the season when the Hawks upset the No. 2 team in 1A, the Damascus Christian Eagles, 66-62, Monday night in Damascus.
Though it wasn’t a conference matchup and had minimal if any impact on Horizon’s quest to grab a Big Sky playoff berth, it was a huge confidence booster for the Hawks, who now find themselves on a three-game win streak — the longest Horizon has had all season. Moreover, Horizon (7-9, 4-3 Big Sky) beat a team that is currently undefeated through six games in the Valley 10 League and had only sustained one loss in 18 games this season before Monday night, when the Hawks snapped the Eagles’ nine-game win streak. The game marked a drastic departure from the two team’s last meeting Jan. 18 at the Moda Center in Portland, where Horizon lost 42-29 in what was the Hawks’ worst offensive outing of the season.
As suggested by the close score, Monday’s win did not come easily for Horizon. Throughout 32 minutes, the Hawks saw nine lead changes and saw the game tied up eight times. After a sluggish start that saw Horizon only score nine points in the opening quarter, Horizon cruised out to a 32-24 lead going into the half thanks to a 23-point quarter. The Hawks lost some ground in the third, getting outscored 18-12 and losing the lead before regaining it late in the quarter and never looking back, repelling multiple Damascus rallies throughout the fourth quarter.
Horizon Head Coach Sam Trevino was already pleased with the progress his players had made so far this season, but Monday’s win over Damascus showed the Hawks’ ability to hang with the best of the best in 1A boys basketball.
“Our boys were grinding on every possession and stayed disciplined to our defense,” he said. “Damascus is a great team and made some adjustments in the second half. Credit those boys and their coach for a great game and team. They can run for sure.”
Leading the way for Horizon were forwards Jared Bryan and Ian Walker, who dominated the Hawks stat sheet in scoring and rebounding categories during their 32 minutes on the court. Bryan had a double-double, leading all scorers with 23 points and tallying a game-high 11 rebounds. He also had a game-high seven steals. Walker had 16 points — including some key shots down the stretch — and also recorded 11 rebounds as well as a game-high six assists. Guard Ethan Evans also had an impressive game, recording 11 points, four rebounds, and a block while playing less than 16 minutes Monday night.
“Kudos to our two bigs down low… Jared Bryan and Ian Walker were the dynamic duo,” Trevino noted. “Our team as a whole contributed on every possession. When our team is working together, any one of them can have a day and put up 20-plus (points).”
As a team, Horizon had an impressive night inside the arc, shooting 52 percent, making 24 of 46 shots. The Hawks also won the turnover battle (21 compared to 25) and significantly outrebounded the Eagles 41-28. One of the few statistical categories Horizon struggled in was three-point shooting, where the Hawks went 2-for-11 (18 percent). Horizon also had a somewhat subpar performance at the free throw line, shooting 52 percent, although they were adept at getting to the line, with 23 free throw attempts.
The Horizon boys looked to keep the good times rolling Friday night in Hood River, where they were scheduled to face the Condon/Wheeler Knights (7-9, 3-4) at 7 p.m., marking the beginning of the second half of league play (results not available at press time). In their previous meeting Jan. 9, the Hawks defeated the Knights 61-49. On Saturday, the Hawks will look for another upset, playing the top dogs in the Big Sky Conference, the Sherman Huskies (13-4, 8-0), who handed Horizon a 69-39 defeat Jan. 8. The game is in Moro and starts at 5:30 p.m.
The Horizon girls (6-10, 3-4 Big Sky) also played eighth-ranked Damascus (13-3, 4-1 Valley 10) Monday night, losing 44-30. Horizon Head Coach Brian Stevens noted that he sat all but two varsity players against Damascus and that Monday night essentially served as a JV game for the Hawks. Stats were not available as of press time. The girls were scheduled to play the No. 7 Condon/Wheeler Knights (15-2, 6-1) Friday at 5 p.m. in Hood River and then play Sherman (3-12, 3-4) Saturday at 4 p.m. in Moro.