Photo by Ben Mitchell
THE EAGLES got a huge win Thursday night over the Hermiston Bulldogs, thanks in large part due to the play of Tyrone Stintzi, Dallas Buckley, and Parker Kennedy, who combined to score 72 of HRV’s 85 points. Buckley led all scorers with a season-high 27 points, followed by Kennedy (23, above) and Stintzi (22).
As of Friday, January 29, 2016
It may still be winter in the Columbia River Gorge, but on Thursday night, the HRV boys basketball team was able to lift a different kind of a cloud that has been hanging over Vannet Court and the Eagles for most of the 2015-16 season.
After only achieving one win and failing to beat an Oregon team this season through 13 games, the Eagles (2-12, 1-1 league) finally got the proverbial monkey off their backs by defeating the Hermiston Bulldogs (8-9, 1-1), 85-73, putting on an offensive clinic in the second half to the delight of the throngs of fans in attendance.
It was a much-needed victory for HRV, who had not seen a win since Dec. 5 (68-42 defeat of Columbia High), and getting it against a Columbia River Conference opponent made it even sweeter. HRV Head Coach Steve Noteboom said the “pretty convincing victory” over Hermiston provided a necessary morale boost for a team that hasn’t had much to be happy about this season.
“You could see it in practice, you could see it with just how everyone was interacting with each other — everyone was just kind of hanging their heads,” he said immediately following the game.
HRV’s 85 points were the most the team has scored all season and the most the team had scored since putting up 68 points against Columbia High Dec. 5. The bulk of the score came from the triumvirate of Dallas Buckley, Parker Kennedy, and Tyrone Stintzi, who scored 27, 23, and 22 points, respectively, scoring all but 13 of HRV’s points Thursday night. Hermiston’s 73 points were the fourth-highest the Eagles have given up this season, but they were also playing against the fourth-most productive offense in 5A.
More impressive was that the majority of HRV’s scoring came in the second half, as the Eagles struggled to gain an advantage over the Bulldogs in the opening quarters of play. Both teams had trouble finding the basket in the first, with HRV scoring 11 and Hermiston scoring 12, then seemed to shed the early-game jitters by scoring 24 and 26 in the second quarter, respectively. Noteboom said the team had some trouble taking care of the ball in the first half, as evidenced by the team’s 11 turnovers, and relied too much on the three, but was able to keep pace with the Bulldogs, down 38-35 at the half.
The Eagles kicked up the energy in the second half, going on a 7-0 run to start the third quarter and never relinquished the lead from there on out. Noteboom said the strategy in the fourth was to spread the ball around and play man-to-man, using HRV’s height advantage to drive into the paint. The strategy worked and broke the Bulldogs’ composure as their shooting suffered and they began fouling the Eagles repeatedly. The Eagles were deadly on the line, shooting 30-for-34 (88 percent) for the team’s best free-throw shooting of the season. That shooting helped HRV to outscore Hermiston 18-7 in the third and then 32-28 in the fourth, which was the team’s best fourth quarter of the season.
The highlight of the fourth, though, was undoubtedly Stintzi’s two-handed slam-dunk midway through the quarter that electrified the crowd at Vannet Court.
“The kid’s heard me yelling, ‘Just a lay-in! Just a lay-in!’” Noteboom said. “But it got everybody excited.”
HRV hopes to keep up the level of play Tuesday at 7 p.m. in The Dalles when they face the Riverhawks (3-13, 0-2) — a team that has also seen its fair share of struggles this season, giving up the most points in 5A.
“If we play as hard as we played tonight and shoot the ball, we should be okay,” Noteboom said.