The Hood River boys basketball team traveled to Redmond on Friday, Dec. 1 for its first away game of the season.
After a 65-57 victory at home versus Sandy, the Eagles would lose in a close game against Redmond by a score of 66-63.
This game came down to the final possession for the Eagles.
Down three points with time winding down, the Eagles drew up a play to draw junior guard Carson Flores open for the three.
Flores, who had the open look from three, missed the shot, but the Eagles were there to grab the offensive board.
A quick kick-out to senior guard JJ Mears for three came next, but with only second left, the Redmond defense collapsed on Mears and made him ultimately chuck up a prayer from beyond the arc.
With neither Flores or Mears shots finding the bottom of the net, the Eagles lost a nail bitter on the road.
Even though the boys lost to Redmond, Head Coach Christopher Dirks felt that his team played well.
“Our turnovers were the lowest I've seen from this group with seven,” said Dirks. “We played with energy, and we played together.”
However, Dirks also added, “Losses are not acceptable.
“The down side was that we didn't have the shooting percentage from the field or the free throw line that we had against Sandy,” he said.
On the night, the Eagles shot 24 percent from the three-point line, compared to 50 percent from their first game, and 47 percent from the field. HRV also shot 12-22 from the free throw line.
“Some of that came from poor shot selection, but the team looked tired. Not using our legs or taking the extra time to get a great look, not a good one. But I think this is a great learning opportunity for the coaching staff and the players.”
This is a prime example of the attempted culture shift behind this program.
It’s clear to this team that you don’t lose games, you learn from them.
They fought all game and had their chance at the end to send it into overtime to give them a shot to win, but they came up short in regulation.
This not only prepares them for a situation that could potentially come up next game or later in the season, but also builds the players’ mental game, which is one the biggest issues this program has had for awhile.
Instead of focusing on the loss and pointing fingers at players or coaches to tell them to get better at something, they’re looking at themselves and wondering, “How do I get better not for myself, but for the team?”
Statistic leaders against Redmond: Mears led the way with 19 points for the Eagles, and also added four rebounds and two blocks. Flores with 15 and Jonah Tactay with 10 were the only other Eagles to score in double digits. Dakota Kurahara had eight points and seven rebounds.
With two road games ahead for the Eagles before their next home game, Dirks said that his team must be prepared and ready to play despite the season’s long weeks.
“We need to get comfortable with the practice schedule and the amount of time we’re on the road as the season progresses,” said Dirks. “We have to learn how to battle the long weeks and stay on top of our game.”
The Eagles played at Heritage on Tuesday, Dec. 5 (results unavailable at press time). Then they head to Madras for a tournament.