After splitting its two games last weekend in the Madras tournament, the HRV girls basketball team at 1-2 on the season was back home Tuesday against Heritage, from Vancouver, in what was an exciting game.
The whole night, both teams went back and forth with each other and ultimately, this game came down to the final possession.
In the first two quarters, neither team was able to gain any momentum as they kept exchanging buckets.
With the Eagles down 5-7 after three minutes of play in the first, senior guard Hannah McNerney hit a three from the corner after a nice display of ball movement from the girls to take a 8-7 lead.
However, next time down, Heritage got the ball inside and made the Eagles pay by converting the layup.
Now an 9-8 ball game in favor of Heritage, Head Coach Donnie Herneisen called an early 30-second timeout with four minutes left in the first.
Out of the timeout, the Eagles are unable to get a basket, but tenacious and aggressive defense on the other end led to a steal by Junior guard Haylee Baker, who took it down court for a fast break lay-in to give the Eagles a 10-9 lead with two minutes left in the quarter.
With Heritage in a 2-3 zone defense, mainly to stop senior forward Lauren Orr from using her size advantage down low, the Eagles clearly wanted to make them work defensively as they were swinging the ball every opportunity they could.
Often, ball movement and making the defense work is what you look for in an offensive set, especially when you’re going against a zone, but eventually it became too repetitive and Heritage began cheating the passing lanes and turning those turnovers into buckets.
Heading into the second quarter, Heritage was up 13-10.
The start of the second was a struggle for both teams, as neither were able to put the ball in the hoop for the first three minutes of the quarter.
With five minutes remaining in the second, Baker stopped the scoring drought by hitting a corner three off an inbound play to make it a tied ball game at 13.
But again, the teams exchanged buckets and two plays later, Heritage found an opening in the Eagles’ defense and knocked down a three-point shot.
As halftime was looming, the girls find an opening to Orr down low and four Heritage defenders collapsed to try and force her into a turnover, but recognition of the pressure coming by Orr allowed her to kick the ball out to Emily Curtis, who hit the wide open three-pointer.
Tied at 16 with under a minute remaining, both team began to get sloppy, but in the end, it favored HRV as Baker was able to recover a loose ball and with three seconds remaining on the clock; she put up a mid-range shot and knocked it down at the buzzer.
At half, the Eagles were up 18-16.
HRV came out of halftime playing aggressive defense and Heritage, in their first possession, was forced to call a timeout only 20 seconds in.
Out of the timeout, HRV forced a bad shot and advanced the ball up court to Curtis, who knocked down another three for HRV, putting the Eagles up 21-16.
A two-minute stretch of scoreless basketball followed.
Still a five-point game, Heritage was able to find some momentum mid-way through the third quarter.
Three straight buckets down low lead to Heritage going on a 6-0 scoring run to take the 22-21 lead.
With momentum clearly on Heritage’s side, Curtis would stop the bleeding with a mid-range shot to get the lead back for HRV, 23-22.
But once again, Heritage would come down and get another easy layup down low.
The 8-2 scoring run Heritage went on in the middle of the third quarter put them right back into this game.
With a 24-23 lead for Heritage, HRV responded with a 6-0 scoring run of their own, off back-to-back threes. The Eagles closed the third quarter with a 10-3 run to take the lead —33-27 —heading into what would be a thrilling fourth quarter.
HRV came out in the fourth looking like they were going to pull away with this game as they stopped Heritage with some great defense on back-to-back opening possessions.
The second stop for HRV turned into a McNerney bucket; McNerney was able to clean up the offensive board off a miss shot and get the put back layup to fall.
With six minutes left in the fourth, Heritage called a timeout, as they were down 35-27.
Upon the timeout, Heritage came out in a full-court press and the Eagles started to play out of control.
Heritage went on a 4-0 run before Baker got to the free throw line for the Eagles and knocked down one of two free throws.
With three minutes left and the Eagles up 36-31, the game became a battle of who wanted it more.
Heritage continued to press HRV and although the Eagles were able to often break the press, they took quick and bad shots in the open court and allowed Heritage to find their way back into the game.
A 6-0 scoring run for Heritage gave them the 37-36 lead with two minutes remaining. Herneisen would then call a timeout to regroup his players.
Upon the timeout, the Eagles were able to throw an over the head pass down court to Baker, who broke Heritage’s press and finished the fast break layup, giving the Eagles the 38-37 advantage.
With a minute and 30 seconds left on the clock, Heritage attacked the rim and got the benefit of a shooting foul call from the referee.
Heritage went to the free throw line and knocked down both to take the 39-38 lead.
After the free throws, the Eagles turned the ball over, but not hanging their heads and getting back on defense allowed them to get in position for the steal as Heritage turned the ball over.
Once the girls gained control of the ball, Herneisen quickly called a timeout.
The Eagles come out of the timeout and missed a mid-range shot that would’ve put them ahead. Heritage fought for the defensive rebound and called a timeout with 40 seconds left.
From here, it seemed all Heritage needed to do was dribble the ball out and then knock down free throws to get the win.
But out of the timeout, Heritage was too conservative with the ball and Baker was able to pick the pocket of the offensive player, going down to the other end of the floor for the layup, which gave the Eagles a 40-39 lead with 20 seconds left.
The next offensive possession for Heritage turned into a defensive stop for HRV and immediately afterwards, Herneisen called a timeout.
“Barrett Ihde came up with two big steals at the end of the game to help us get the ball back and be in a position to win the game,” said Herneisen. “We got some great contributions off our bench, including Ihde, who came in for Lauren Orr, who suffered a hand injury earlier in the half.”
With seven seconds left, HRV was fouled and went to the free throw line for a one and one opportunity.
The first attempt by junior guard Lizzie Weekly was an air ball, giving Heritage a chance to set up an inbounds play.
But some stingy defense by HRV made it tough for Heritage to get the ball inbounds and when they finally did get the ball in play, they carelessly tried to push it up court. Ultimately, they threw the ball out of bounds, securing the 40-39 win for the Eagles.
“We’re happy to get the win,” said Herneisen. “I am really happy with how the girls stayed tough mentally, especially given that we had another rough shooting night. We are still working on being more consistent shooters, but I’m happy that the girls were able to grind out the win.”
Even though the team expected to shoot better than they did Tuesday night, Baker was able to pick up her teammates as she had her best game of the season with 12 points, six rebounds and nine steals, all while defending Heritage’s tough point guard Brianna Gould, who had 19 points against HRV.
“It was a good win for us,” said Herneisen. “But we’ve got miles to go still.”
Statistic leaders against Heritage: Emily Curtis led the Eagles in scoring with 13 points and also had four rebounds. Haylee Baker was HRV’s X-factor Tuesday night as she went for 12 points, six rebounds and nine steals. Hannah McNerney edged out the Eagles scoring with eight points and tallied in four rebounds and three assists as well.
The girls would then play at home once again on Friday, Dec. 8 against Redmond (result unavailable at press time).