Photo by Ray Rodriguez
IAN WALKER attempts a shot during Saturday’s third-place game against Arlington. Walker was named Second Team All-League.
As of Tuesday, February 21, 2017
It wasn’t easy, but the Horizon boys basketball team has once again qualified for a berth in the state tournament after finishing third in the Big Sky District tournament last weekend in Madras. The boys, a three-seed in the tournament, lost to No. 2 Dufur 57-38 in the opening round Friday, then beat No. 4 Arlington in the third-place game Saturday.
The finish in the Big Sky tourney, which was the same as the team attained last season, pitted the Hawks (16-11, 8-6 Big Sky) against the Joseph Eagles (19-6, 11-3 Old Oregon League) during Tuesday’s opening round of the 1A state tournament, with Horizon traveling to Joseph for a 6 p.m. game (results not available at press time).
Horizon had not played well against Dufur in the regular season, losing their first meeting by eight points and their second game by 14. Unfortunately for Horizon, Friday’s late-afternoon matchup with the Rangers (18-4, 12-2), wasn’t any different.
“I felt going into Dufur that we were prepared for their pressure, but we played like we did last time,” said Horizon Head Coach Darrin Lingel.
Neither team had a great shooting night, with Horizon shooting 30 percent (13-for-43) and Dufur shooting 34 percent (18-for-53), but the Rangers forced 26 turnovers from Horizon and parlayed those mistakes into points, which proved to be the difference maker. That, and the Hawks had no answer for Dufur guards Connor Uhalde and Bailey Keever, who combined to score all but six of Dufur’s 57 points.
“Basically, two players beat them,” Lingel noted. “It’s the same old story, just a different day. The two-guard pressure was too much for them.”
Dufur led for almost the entire game and outscored Horizon every quarter, making it difficult for the Hawks to get into the game. Derek Johnston, who received an Honorable Mention during the All-League awards handed out last weekend, led the team with eight points, nine rebounds, and four steals. Ian Walker, who was named Second Team All-League, was next with seven points and eight rebounds. Luke Holste also scored seven.
It was a different result against Arlington (12-13, 7-7) on Saturday, a team that Horizon had beaten twice this season — once by three points and once by seven. However, the style of play the Hawks displayed was disconcertingly similar to what Lingel witnessed in his team’s first game of the tournament, and he didn’t mince words about it.
“It was an ugly shooting performance by both teams,” he said. “Nobody could do anything. We just made a few more shots than them.”
The Hawks had their worst offense performance against a Big Sky opponent this season, going 13-for-49 from the field (27 percent), including a 1-for-10 (10 percent) effort from the three-point line and a 9-for-20 (45 percent) showing at the foul line. Luckily for the Hawks, the Honkers had even greater struggles, going 10-for-46 (22 percent) overall from the field, 1-for-15 (7 percent) from the arc, and 9-for-19 (47 percent) from the free-throw line.
Horizon fell behind 10-7 after the first eight minutes of play, but then exploded in the second quarter 15-4 to go up 22-14 at the half, which was enough to repel the modest Honkers rally in the second 16 minutes of the game.
Scoring was spread around well, with Holste leading the team with seven points and Walker and Ethan Evans close behind with six each. Derek Johnston led the team with an impressive 16 rebounds in the game and also scored five.
Winner of Tuesday’s game at Joseph will advance to the second round of the state tournament on Saturday — the final round before qualifying teams head to the round of eight portion of the tournament in Baker City.