Photo by Ben Mitchell
ETHAN EVANS (right, No. 11) passes the ball to Luke Holste during Tuesday’s game with Condon/Wheeler.
Every win is important at this point, but Tuesday’s win over the Condon/Wheeler Knights by the Horizon boys basketball team was especially crucial considering the Big Sky Conference standings.
Horizon (12-9, 5-5 Big Sky) is neighbors with Condon/Wheeler (9-9, 4-5) in the league, with the Hawks occupying the fourth and final spot to qualify for the Big Sky District tournament Feb. 17-18 in Madras (check out “Sports Briefs” on the top of Page A8 for an update on this year’s tournament format). The Knights are currently in fifth.
The Hawks made short work of Condon/Wheeler Tuesday in Hood River, with Horizon defeating the Knights 68-44 — a nearly identical result to the two teams’ last meeting Jan. 27, when the Hawks beat the Knights 69-44.
After the first couple minutes of play, it seemed clear how the game was going to end up, with the Hawks using their superior shooting to pull away from the Knights — first 22-14 at the end of the first quarter and then upping that to 39-23 at the half.
Horizon didn’t stray from its typical shot selection, making the lion’s share of their buckets from within the paint. They did that particularly well, hitting of 25-of-43 from two-point range (58 percent) and went 2-for-10 from beyond the arc (20 percent) to achieve a total field-goal percentage of 51. Condon/Wheeler got nearly as many shot opportunities from the field as Horizon did, but struggled mightily going 15-for-51 (29 percent).
The Hawks also averaged just three turnovers a quarter and outrebounded the Knights 35-29. After a slow start to league play, Horizon Head Coach Darrin Lingel has been pleased with what he has seen from his team as of late.
“We performed well — the key categories of rebounding and turnovers are slowly moving in the right direction,” he noted. “The rest of the way is important for us to achieve our goal. Right now, we are sitting in the fourth position (in the Big Sky Conference) and our goal is to land in the third position going into districts.”
It was a true team effort from the Hawks Tuesday night, with four players hitting double figures when it came to scoring. Ian Walker in particular had himself a good evening, scoring a team-high 16 points, including a 6-for-10 (60 percent) performance from the field, and also leading the team with eight rebounds and two blocks. Derek Johnston had the exact same shot percentage from the field, scoring 14 points, while Quinn Roetcisoender and Ethan Evans each scored 10 points, with Roetcisoender collecting a team-high four steals and Evans leading the Hawks with six assists. Bailey Holste (nine), Luke Holste (seven), and William Decker (two) also scored for Horizon.
The Hawks did themselves another favor Thursday night when they defeated the Arlington Honkers (11-8, 6-4) on the road, who are in the third spot in the conference, by a score of 61-54. That was an improvement over Horizon’s last meeting with Arlington Jan. 14, when the Hawks won by just three points at home. Thursday’s game was originally scheduled for Friday, but was moved up due to the weather (check the Wednesday edition of the News for more coverage). Horizon is scheduled to host the No. 10 Dufur Rangers (13-2, 8-1) this Saturday at 5:30 p.m., though that is dependent on the weather cooperating.
“We lost to (Dufur) by eight on their court (Jan. 13) and we hope to avenge that loss by coming back strong and moving the needle in key categories,” Lingel said. “If we take care of the ball and out-rebound our opponent, we have a great chance to get the victory Saturday.”