Horizon girls extend win streak to five

The Horizon girls basketball team steamrolled two opponents in a pair of weekend victories as they continued to build momentum for the upcoming Big Sky Conference playoffs. Horizon (13-5, 7-1 Big Sky) outscored league foes Condon/Wheeler and Sherman by a total margin of 131-50.

Horizon won Friday 65-30 on the road over the Knights (7-9, 4-3) and followed with a 66-20 blowout home win over the Huskies (5-12, 3-6) for a fifth-consecutive win. Horizon, which has won 11 of its last 12 games, was seeking to capture a sixth straight win in a home rematch Tuesday versus Condon/Wheeler (results unavailable at press time).

Horizon’s next game is at 6 p.m. Friday on the road against the league-leading and eighth-ranked Arlington Honkers (14-4, 9-0). The Hawks return home for a 4 p.m. game Saturday against the Dufur Rangers (6-9, 4-5). Horizon, guided by Head Coach Brian Stevens, would likely clinch a position in the Big Sky playoffs with wins over Condon/Wheeler and Dufur. Four teams out of the eight-team conference qualify for districts Feb. 17-18 at Madras High School: the top two teams get automatic berth, with the No. 3 and No. 4 teams facing the No. 5 and No. 6 teams in a play-in round. The winners move on to Madras.

“We stifled Condon/Wheeler defensively while using two different versions of our press in the first quarter and that enabled us to build a 22-2 lead,” said Stevens. “From then on, we played a half-court, two-three extended zone. That allowed us to slow the game down and take our time on offense. We set up well offensively and we found players open for good jump shots.”

Horizon led 22-2 after one quarter and 36-12 at halftime. Horizon held the Knights to single-digit scoring in the third and fourth quarters. The Hawks pulled away for the lopsided win while outscoring the Knights 29-18 in the second half.

Paulina Finn had her fourth triple-double of the season for the Hawks with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 steals. Katie Wenz had 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals. Hawk starters Jodee Hicks (eight points, 12 rebounds), Haley Becnel (six points), Jasmine Stevens (four points, eight rebounds) and backups Fionna Marsalis (six points) and Alexis Ruiz (four points) also contributed offensively.

Similar to Friday’s game, the Hawks again jumped out to a big early lead, going up 20-4 over Sherman on Saturday at Horizon. The Hawks, who have Class 1A’s sixth-ranked offense (53.6 points per game) continued their offensive rhythm while scoring in double digits in every quarter, while limiting Sherman to single digits in all four quarters.

Led by Finn, who had another triple double (28 points, 12 rebounds, 11 steals), Horizon jumped in front 37-12 at halftime. The Hawks extended the margin to 48-15 after three, while playing strong defense and limiting Sherman to just three points in the third quarter. Wenz (11 points, eight rebounds) and Becnel (10 points, five steals) scored in double digits. Ruiz (seven points), Hicks (four points), Marsalis (four points) and Stevens (two points) also contributed offensively.

“We started utilizing new defensive schemes to mix things up a little and we scored most of our first half points on transition baskets,” said Stevens. “We scored primarily in our half-court offense in the second half, while being patient and executing well. We took what the defense gave us and capitalized on it. I think Paulina is undoubtedly the best player in our league. She’s efficient offensively and rabid defensively and she’s just an incredible player.”

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