Horizon boys scrap, but can’t get past a tough Sherman team in Big Sky Conference opener

Playing the defending 1A champs Sherman on the road was a heck of a way for the Horizon boys basketball team to start the Big Sky Conference schedule, and for the most part, the Huskies played as well as advertised, defeating the Hawks 71-45 — Horizon’s worst loss of the season, in terms of margin.

Sherman (6-4, 2-0 Big Sky Conference), shot out in front of Horizon with a 17-7 start in the first quarter and the Hawks (7-4, 0-1) tried in vain to play catch up for the whole game. Horizon had particular difficulty in guarding Sherman senior guard/wing Isaiah Coles, who lit up the Hawks with 23 points and shot 9-for-13 (69 percent) from the field. It was battle in the paint the whole night, as the two teams combined for only four three-pointers on 19 attempts, while both teams shot above 50 percent from two-point range.

It wasn’t exactly the start to league competition that Horizon had hoped for, but Head Coach Darrin Lingel saw plenty he liked in Friday’s game.

“They’re a good basketball team,” he said of Sherman, “but like any team, they’re going to have some holes. To be honest with you, they had some areas where they had some weaknesses, and we tried to exploit them.”

Lingel said that Sherman may have had the size advantage, but Horizon could beat the Huskies when it came to speed and the Hawks stole the ball away from the Huskies four more times than they were able to steal the rock away from Horizon. He added that his squad played well in the first half, getting the Huskies out of position and forcing them to take shots that were less than ideal.

“I was really pleased, because some of the defensive concepts we were running were effective,” he added.

Beating Sherman with a full roster would have been a difficult challenge in its own right, but Horizon had the added impediment of a team weakened by illness. Derek Johnston was sick and did not play, Bailey Holste (one point, one assist) tried to play, but vomited after the first quarter and rode the pine for the rest of the game, and Lingel said Quinn Roetcisoender (nine points, four rebounds, one assist, three steals, two charges), “was coughing so hard that the other team was probably like, ‘Dude! Stay away!’”

With a depleted roster, a lot of Horizon’s weight on offense fell on the shoulders of Ian Walker and Luke Holste, who each scored 14 points to lead the team, with Walker shooting an impressive 80 percent on two pointers (4-for-5) and Holste shooting 78 (7-for-9). William Decker lead the team in rebounds, with five.

Adversity aside, Lingel admitted that even with a hopefully healthy team and a home game in the two teams’ next meeting Jan. 28, it would still be difficult for Horizon to take down the Huskies, who are currently ranked fifth out of the 69 1A teams (Horizon is 14th). But Lingel said he saw his team grow up after the game with Sherman and couldn’t fault his players for leaving it all on the hardwood.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said when asked how he felt about playing Sherman under these circumstances. “Every coach wants to know what kind of team they have… I think this game here showed me and all the preseason games showed what we have. I like the fight this team has.”

Horizon has its final nonleague contest of the season this Thursday against 5A Hood River Valley (3-7) in a “road” game that will tip at Vannet Court at 7 p.m. The Hawks resume league play on Friday with a game at Dufur (6-1, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m., then host Arlington (6-4, 1-0) Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Last Saturday’s home game against Condon/Wheeler was canceled due to weather, then rescheduled to Jan. 31.

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