Defense leads the way during the Horizon boys current three-game winning streak

After opening league play with a loss on the road, the Horizon boys basketball team have now won three-straight league games and are now 3-1 in 1A-6 Big Sky League play.

The boys traveled to Ione last Friday and won by a final score of 51-30, then had a home game the next night on Saturday, Jan. 13 which they won versus Spray/Mitchell by a final score of 54-29.

Before both games, Head Coach Darrin Lingel stressed how important it was for this team to become consistent now that league play has begun, especially on the defensive end.

“We need to do a better job defending,” said coach Lingel. “Our DNA is defense. Our defense gets our offense going and on nights that the ball is not going in we must make it up on the defensive side.”

And in the boys last two games they’ve done exactly what coach Lingel has asked from them.

The boys on Friday night held Ione to only 10 made shots on a total of just 23 shot attempts.

Ione also struggled to take care of the ball as the Horizon defense forced 30 turnovers on 27 steals.

As much of a defensive performance this was for the boys, they also had standout performances on the offensive with three players in double digits in scoring.

Horizon was led by freshman guard Caleb Lingel who had 15 points on 5-12 shooting. Lingel also had eight steals and two assists.

Junior guard Bailey Holste had 11 points, two assists and two rebounds.

For the first time this season, freshman big man Skyler Leeson had double-digits in the scoring column with 10. Leeson was 5-11 from the field and added four rebounds.

The number one option on offense for the Hawks, junior forward Derek Johnston, had himself an off-night shooting the ball as he only had five points on 2-9 shooting.

However, he was still able to impact the game in a positive way as he had team-highs in steals and assists with nine and seven.

He also added eight rebounds as well; nearing a triple double in steals, assists and rebounds.

This momentum from the victory against Ione translated over to the next day as Horizon had their way versus Spray/Mitchell winning by 25 points.

The defense continued its dominance and forced Spray/Mitchell into 23 turnovers as the Hawks had 17 total steals.

And for a second-straight game the Hawks defense held their opponent to just 10 made shots and Spray/Mitchell’s field goal percentage was 32.3 percent.

Offensively, Johnston found his groove after an off night shooting the ball against Ione, putting 19 points up on 9-12 shooting from the field. Johnston also had five rebounds and four steals.

The only other Hawk in double-digits scoring was Holste who had 10 points on an efficient 4-9 from the field. Holste added five assists and two steals.

Other Hawk scorers versus Mitchell/Spray: Kyle Brown, seven points; Kai Robertson, six points; Lingel, four points; Leeson, four points; Andrew Wells, two points; and Nolan Ryan, two points.

With 10 games left in the regular season for the Hawks, “It’s important as we move forward to get the ball to our shooters and have good spacing offensively on the court,” said coach Lingel. “We must attack the rim and get to the free throw line. This gets our shooters in rhythm. We have had up and down games this year where we play poorly one night and better on another night primarily due to our team being young. Our play will have to become more consistent as we move through league play and hopefully into districts.”

Upcoming games:

The Hawks played at home on Tuesday, Jan. 16 versus South Wasco Country (results unavailable at press time), before they’re on the road against Sherman on Friday, Jan. 19.

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