It had been 13 days since the HRV girls basketball team’s last game — last week their contest against Corbett on the road was cancelled because of the opposing team not having enough players to suit up — but the girls were finally back in action on Jan. 16.
The girls welcomed the 6-8 Liberty Flacons to Vannet Court for the Eagles’ final non-league matchup of the season.
Early on, it was noticeable that the girls were trying to find their groove on the court after being away from any competition for nearly two weeks.
But finding their groove was just half of the problem. The Eagles were also not ready for what the team on the other side of the ball was ready to bring.
Liberty came out with an aggressive mindset as they picked up the Eagles full-court and it took some time for the girls to realize that Liberty was going to come after them for the entire 32 minutes of this game.
The pressure full-court by the Falcons got the best of the Eagles early on, and Liberty went up 6-0 after a handful of turnovers for HRV.
Head Coach Donnie Herneisen would call a timeout to stall Liberty’s 6-0 scoring run to open the game, but the Falcons would continue to pile it on, going up 11-0 before Lauren Orr was finally able to get a bucket for the Eagles, and with three minutes left in the first quarter, HRV was down 11-2.
But despite the bucket, the Eagles were unable to get anything going and after one quarter, the girls were down 16-4, having no answer for Liberty’s pressure.
The same story from the first carried on to the start of the second quarter as Liberty continued to pressure the Eagles and HRV was unable to get anything going offensively.
However, on the defensive end, the girls began to raise their level of play and four minutes into the second, the Eagles had held the Falcons to only two points to cut the Liberty lead to 10 — 18-8.
And finally, 12 minutes into this game, the Eagles found some offense.
Orr started what turned into a 6-2 scoring run to close the second quarter with back-to-back layups to cut the liberty lead to 20-12 with just under a minute remaining before halftime.
And with time winding down, junior guard Bailey Frazier pickpocketed a Liberty ball handler and took the ball all the way for a layup on the other end to head into halftime down 20-14.
In the second quarter, HRV held Liberty to only four points after a 16-point performance by the Falcons in the first, and outscored them 10-4.
After halftime, it was clear that Herneisen had settled his team down during the break and made adjustments to the game plan to counteract Liberty’s pressure.
The Eagles came out in the third quarter with confidence as they were able to finally break Liberty’s full court pressure with the pass.
However, the girls were unable to cash in on their opportunities on the offensive end and after the first four minutes of the third quarter, the score was 22-18 with Liberty still ahead.
In the third, both teams ended up only scoring four points each and heading into the fourth, Liberty had the 24-18 lead.
After an eight-point total in the third quarter, both coaches and players knew that if they wanted to leave Vannet Court with a victory, they were going to need to have a better offensive display.
The Eagles continued their strong defense from the previous two quarters and opened the fourth by forcing back-to-back turnovers, cutting the lead down to 26-22.
The girls had a chance to tie the game at 26, but during the opening stretch, the Eagles went 2-6 from the free throw line.
Junior guard Haylee Baker cut the lead to two with five minutes remaining in the game after back-to-back layups.
Baker’s layups capped an 8-4 scoring run for HRV as they were down 28-26.
Liberty responded with a layup to go up 30-26 before Herneisen called a timeout with 4:30 left.
Out of the timeout, junior guard Emily Curtis found an opening in the weak side of the court and got fouled as she went up for the layup, but at the free throw line she was only able to knock down one of two.
A defensive stop on the following possession for the Eagles led to Baker getting out in transition. Baker was fouled and knocked down both free throws to cut the Liberty lead to one with three minutes left, 30-29.
With momentum on the Eagles’ side, it seemed the girls would take over this game and come out with a home victory before opening league play on Thursday.
However, Liberty went on a 9-3 scoring run to close out the game and won by a final score of 39-32.
The toughest pill to swallow for the girls wasn’t the 25 turnovers in this game, as they were able to overcome those on the defensive end, but the 10-22 shooting from the free throw line.
HRV player stats versus Liberty: Lauren Orr, 15 points and 10 rebounds; Haylee Baker, six points and three steals; Ashlynn Dawson, four points.
Next up for the girls was their Columbia River Conference opener at Pendleton on Thursday, Jan. 18. The girls would go on the road and drop this game by a final score of 51-36 (game summary to come next edition).