Slow start dooms Horizon boys at South Wasco County

Nearing the halfway point of their league schedule, the Horizon boys basketball team is currently in the bottom half of the Big Sky standings and as of Friday morning, occupied the sixth spot in the league — the last spot to get into the conference tournament held late next month.

The Hawks (9-8, 2-4 Big Sky) dropped an important game to South Wasco County (6-8, 3-4), losing 54-37 to the Redsides, who are now fifth place in the conference.

Horizon never had the lead in the game, and was forced to play catchup after a disastrous first quarter put the Hawks down 16-5. Though the Hawks righted themselves and kept the game closer, pulling within three points during the second quarter, they were still outscored 38-32 throughout the final three quarters of the game.

“We had a very difficult game and did a poor job defending their bigs. If we do not do a better job the next time we see them, we will see the same results,” noted Horizon Head Coach Darrin Lingel. “(Our) ball pressure was weak and this needs to be adjusted.”

Though South Wasco committed turnovers right and left (35, to be precise, compared to Horizon’s 13), the Hawks had difficulty capitalizing on the Redsides’ errors in what was Horizon’s lowest-scoring game against a Big Sky opponent to-date this season. Though Horizon had far more opportunities from the field than South Wasco, the Hawks had their worst shooting night of the year, going 15-for-63 (24 percent).

Making matters worse, those missed shots were quickly gobbled up by South Wasco, beating Horizon 43-23 on boards — 34 of which were defensive rebounds. On the other end of the court, the Redsides shot near 60 percent, hitting 22 of their 37 attempts from the field. As Lingel indicated, South Wasco’s senior big men, Ty Herlocker and Haven Stephenson, proved a menace for Horizon’s defense, pouring in a combined 38 points.

Derek Johnston was a bright spot in Horizon’s offense, recording a team-high 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting (43 percent). Ian Walker led the team in rebounding (eight), steals (six), and was second in scoring with nine points. Luke Holste was right behind with eight points and led the team with four assists.

Heading into the next round of Big Sky games this weekend, Lingel is looking for players to step up.

“We have struggled all year with leadership on this team. They are a great group of guys, but lack a true leader. I don’t have A Type personalities, so we don’t have guys challenging each other verbally; we become more passive,” Lingel explained. “When we get down, we have a tendency to stay down. Confidence comes with practicing and playing games as a player; it also comes from leadership — leaders who not only lead by example, but demand that poor play is not acceptable.”

Horizon looked to hit the reset button on Friday, traveling to Condon for a match with the Condon/Wheeler Knights (8-7, 3-3), the results of which were not available at press time. Things won’t get easier for the Hawks on Saturday, as they host the No. 2 team in the state, the Sherman Huskies (12-4, 7-0), in a game that starts at 5:30 p.m.

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