Hawk boys split to stay in district playoff contention

The Horizon boys basketball team split two weekend games to stay in contention for the upcoming Big Sky Conference playoffs. Horizon (9-10, 3-5 Big Sky) won 69-44 Friday on the road over the Condon/Wheeler Knights (8-8, 4-4). The Hawks, guided by Head Coach Darrin Lingel, then lost at home Saturday 68-55 to the second-ranked Sherman Huskies (14-4, 9-0).

“Sherman is a good basketball team, but our kids played a pretty good game against them,” said Lingel. “I was really encouraged by the good, strong effort that the boys showed throughout the game. The game got out of hand with Sherman having a big advantage in free-throw shooting. Sherman made most of their free throws (17-for-22), which proved to be the difference in the game, because we shot just 6-for-9 at the line. We made a significant improvement from the first time that we played them to the second game against them. We were within 10 points in the second half. Then we just made errors and mistakes that allowed them to extend the lead and you just can’t do that against good teams.”

Leading 16-15 after one quarter against the Knights, Horizon broke open a close game to build a double-digit second quarter lead. Led by top scorers Derek Johnston (16 points) and senior Quinn Roetcisoender (10 points), Horizon outscored Condon/Wheeler 19-10 in the second to take a 35-25 halftime advantage. Horizon continued its momentum in the second half, pummeling the Knights offensively in the third and outscoring them 23-10 to take a 58-35 lead after three.

Horizon’s 69 points was a season high and the Hawks’ accurate field goal shooting (21-for-34, 61.8 percent) was also the team’s best shooting game this year.

On Saturday versus the defending 1A champion Huskies, the Hawks fell behind 20-7 after one quarter. The teams traded baskets in the second, with Sherman up 39-25 at halftime. In an evenly played second half, Horizon outscored Sherman 30-29, but the Huskies remained in front at the end for their 11th consecutive win.

Ian Walker led Horizon in scoring with 19 points and Ethan Evans added 13. Horizon played a key contest Tuesday at home against Condon/Wheeler, while having an opportunity with a win to move into a fourth-place tie with the Knights (results unavailable at press time). Horizon’s next contest is Friday on the road at 7:30 p.m. against the Arlington Honkers (12-6, 6-3). The Hawks return home for a 7 p.m. matchup against the Dufur Rangers (13-2, 8-1).

“I feel confident that we can finish in the top four of the standings and our goal is to get third place,” said Lingel. “If we can continue to play as well as we have been, then I feel good about our chances. We’ve beaten Arlington twice (49-46, 55-51) and it’s going to be a tough game on Friday, but I think the kids will be up for the challenge. This is an important week for us as we try to solidify our position and get into the top four of the standings.”

Horizon has five games left on the schedule, with four of the games against teams that they’ve already won against. Horizon’s last three opponents are in bottom three positions of the league (South Wasco, Ione, Mitchell/Spray), which should enable the Hawks to conclude the season with the momentum of a winning streak. The regular season concludes with a Feb. 11 contest at Ione.

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