Horizon Hawks boys basketball opened 1A-6 Big Sky League competition on the road against Arlington on Jan. 5.
The boys headed into this game on a three-game winning streak and were 5-3 after the first eight games of the season.
It seemed Horizon would keep the hot-streak going as they headed into halftime up double digits. But the Hawks were unable to sustain their lead in the second and lost in overtime by a final score of 41-36.
Bailey Holste and Derek Johnston led the Hawks in scoring with 12 and 11. Holste added six assists while Johnston had five steals.
To open league play with a loss isn’t how this team envisioned things going, but the boys would get their shot at redemption with a quick turnaround game the next day at home versus Dufur on Jan. 6.
Dufur entered league play with a 3-6 overall record on the season.
Early in this game, both teams wanted to get out to a fast start, coming out in a full-court press hoping to get things going not just on the defensive end, but also in transition on offense.
In transition, both Horizon and Dufur were finding opportunities all over the court and with 3:30 left in the first quarter, Dufur jumped out to an early 10-7 lead.
And for Dufur this lead would grow as the Hawks hit a cold-spell offensively.
Dufur closed out the first quarter on a 6-2 scoring run for a 16-9 lead heading into the second.
Despite the Hawks slowly starting to get things going offensively, Dufur wouldn’t let the Hawks gain any momentum halfway through the second quarter as they responded to Horizon’s five early points in the second quarter with five of their own.
With just under four minutes remaining in the second quarter and Dufur up 21-14, the Hawks came out of a timeout ready to cut into this Dufur lead.
Horizon went on an 8-0 run led by Johnston, who had six of the eight points during this scoring run, and with two minutes left in the second quarter, the Hawks were now only down by one point, 23-22.
The Hawks were unable to go into halftime with the lead as Dufur was up 25-24, but the way Horizon ended the second quarter was on a much more positive note than Dufur, and it translated to the start of third quarter.
Horizon came out in the third quarter with a purpose to not let their first-league home game slip away from them, and they turned up the intensity on defense, which led to turnovers and a numerous amount of opportunities in transition.
Freshman guard Caleb Lingel opened the third quarter with a three-pointer in transition to give the Hawks a 27-26 lead.
Lingel’s trey would be the start of a 9-3 run for the Hawks and with four minutes left before the start of the fourth quarter, the Hawks had a five-point advantage, 33-28.
In the third quarter, Horizon outscored Dufur 15-10, giving them the 39-35 lead heading into the fourth.
Johnston opened the fourth with six straight points, including a three-pointer off an inbound play called by Head Coach Darrin Lingel. Johnston knocked it down from the corner to push the Hawks lead to 45-35 with 5:30 left in this game.
After the 6-0 run from the Hawks, things began to get sloppy for both teams.
Turnovers and carelessness with the ball plagued the following two-minutes after the 6-0 Hawks run.
Dufur quietly crawled back into the game after the ugly stretch of play from both teams, and at the two-minute mark in the fourth, the Hawks were holding on to a 45-39 lead.
Defensive miscommunication led to Dufur knocking down a wide-open three from the corner to cut the Hawks lead down to three with only 1:20 left.
Both teams went to the free throw line on their following offensive possessions, but the Hawks were unable to get any points on the board while Dufur made one of two free throws to cut it to a 45-43 lead with 1:11 left.
After hitting a free throw to go up 46-43 and getting a stop on the following defensive possession, freshman guard Calen Lingel went to the free throw line with 26.9 seconds and he knocked down one of two shots, which was crucial for the Hawks as the free throw made this a two-possession game.
Dufur responded on the other end with a two-pointer to make it 47-45 with 14.8 seconds left.
And following the Dufur bucket, the Hawks would meet their fourth quarter nemesis: the free throw line.
But the free throw line wasn’t going to get the better of Horizon this time around as Johnston, walking with confidence, went up to the line with 11 seconds left and a 47-45 lead.
Johnston sank the first one and what followed was a sigh of relief from the home crowd as the Hawks took a three-point lead.
Then a cheer broke out from the crowd after Johnston hit the second free throw to go up 49-45.
Dufur followed the free throws with two of their own, and with 3.9 seconds left, the Hawks threw a Hail Mary pass down the court to Holste, who was in stride and finished the open court layup, giving the Hawks a 51-47 victory.
The boys head into their next game versus Ione on Friday, Jan. 12 with a 1-1 league record and 7-4 overall record. The next home game for the boys is Saturday, Jan. 13 at 5:30 p.m. versus Mitchell.