As of Friday, January 27, 2017
They’ve beaten Big Sky cellar-dwellers Ione and Mitchell/Spray with ease, but on Tuesday, players for the Horizon girls basketball team made a big statement when they pulled out a 33-30 road victory over the equally formidable South Wasco County Redsides (8-6, 5-2 league).
The win gave the No. 23 Hawks a 5-1 league record (11-5 overall) and bumped the team to second place in the Big Sky standings, only trailing the No. 12 Arlington Honkers, who have yet to lose a conference matchup and boast a 12-4 overall record. As they approach the halfway point of their league schedule, the Hawks are off to one of their best Big Sky starts in program history, and the win over South Wasco shows that Horizon is for real.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Horizon Head Coach Brian Stevens. “Games like this in the past, Horizon would lose. Now, we have learned to win tough, close games.”
For a team that boasts one of the most potent offenses in all of 1A basketball, Horizon’s meeting with the Redsides displayed little of that offense flair as the teams engaged in a defensive tug-of-war that lasted throughout the entire 32 minutes of play.
“Our pressure defense forced South Wasco into turnover after turnover. Our defense was solid. South Wasco’s defense was solid all night. They forced us to work outside of our offense,” Stevens noted.
After the first quarter, it was 10-9, South Wasco. At the half, it was 19-18. In the third quarter, the Hawks gained a little of an edge, but not much, leading 29-28 heading into the final eight minutes.
Down by a point with 3:30 remaining in the game, Stevens said the team’s offense suddenly “clicked,” giving the Hawks a small window of opportunity.
“We got two steals in our full-court press that led to layups. Then we got a third steal in the half court set and ran the ball down for another layup,” he recalled. “South Wasco had to foul us and put us at the line and we made one of two free throws to give us a three-point lead with 5.7 seconds left.”
The Hawks closed out the game with a full-court press, preventing the Redsides from launching a buzzer-beating three that would have sent the game into overtime.
The defeat of the Redsides was one of the team’s most well-rounded efforts as all of Horizon’s starters had an equal hand in the victory, including Paulina Finn (seven points, 13 rebounds, six steals, five blocks), Haley Becnel (eight points, four steals, three rebounds), Jodee Hicks (eight points, 12 rebounds, six blocks), Kaitlin Wenz (three points, eight rebounds, four steals, two blocks) and Jasmine Stevens (eight rebounds, three steals).
Horizon traveled to Condon/Wheeler (7-8, 4-2) for a matchup with the Knights Friday evening, then host Sherman (4-11, 2-5) Saturday at 4 p.m.