Noah Webster holds the pose as he watches his second free throw sink into the hoop, giving the Eagles two points towards Thursday’s win.
The HRV Boys Basketball team hosted Hudson’s Bay last Thursday, in a close game wherein the Eagles held on for a narrow 64-61 victory.
An important win for the Eagles, this game was wild through and through, with stretches of stalled possessions and chaotic minutes passing in sporadic succession.
The first quarter marked a slow start for Hood River, as they quickly fell behind Bay’s solid ball movement and fast paced offense. Within minutes, the score was 11-2 — and though the Eagles had numerous fast break opportunities to score, they lacked the touch to finish and compete offensively. By the end of the quarter, the score was 20-8 Hudson’s Bay.
A technical foul was called on Bay’s bench for unsportsmanlike behavior late in the quarter; an odd way to act when up. Coach Chris Dirks gave the Eagles a long talk between quarters, and it seemed to work, as they came out like a new team in the second.
“I didn’t ever lose confidence in my guys and that’s part of what I was telling them,” said Dirks. “I know what they are capable of.”
Some questionable foul calls saw Carson Flores and Noah Webster, the team’s leading scorers, out for most of the first half. Their absence didn’t stop Hood River though, led by senior German Diaz who turned driving to the basket his profession all game long.
The Eagles picked up the aggression on defense as well, forcing turnovers with their full court press and attacking the glass for rebounds. The turnaround was incredible, as the half ended with Hudson’s Bay up 28-26, after being outscored by Hood River 18-8 in the second quarter.
The momentum was with Hood River going into halftime, and it stayed with them through the third quarter. Flores and Webster came out shooting — and scoring — from all areas of the court.
Unfortunately, after some quick buckets, Flores was called for his fourth foul— another seriously arguable call — and benched. The offense picked up on both sides, with quicker possessions and fast breaks dominating the quarter. Hood River managed to take and extend a slight lead, but the gap never widened into double digits as Hudson’s Bay stayed close. As the fourth quarter loomed, the tension rose with what looked like another nail-biter coming for Hood River.
Closing out a game is an important aspect of any winning team. The ability to secure a lead is one thing, but maintaining composure and pace, playing level-headed and relaxed, is entirely different.
Hood River had the lead and had demonstrated through the third quarter why they were the better team. Hudson’s Bay had tried, and failed, to mount a comeback. All the Eagles needed was to play smart, trade baskets and stay diligent on defense. Yet, to start the fourth, they turned the ball over several times, gave up a rapid succession of points and found themselves up by few with a lot of time left.
A timeout helped calm the Eagles down, and they came out prepared. Flores, Webster and Diaz commanded the team, utilizing smart ball movement and reverting to the long possession game they had employed before. In the final few minutes, the previously zealous referees went silent, and the game broke into a frenzy. Hood River held a narrow 62-61 lead when a succession of plays occurred that defined the Eagles’ overall effort and highlighted German Diaz as the key player in their victory.
With 15 seconds left, Cruise Hawk of Hood River was fouled by a Hudson’s player, forcing him to shoot free throws in a 1-and-1 situation (he shoots one free throw, if he makes it he gets another; if he misses, the ball is live). This was a key play for Bay: With a miss, they have a chance for a game-winning shot. Even if Hawk makes both, they can still tie with a three. As it turns out, Hawk would miss his free throw, but Hudson’s hopes were quickly dashed as Diaz slipped under his defender and snagged the offensive rebound. Without hesitation, he went back up and laid the ball off the glass, enduring the flailing arms of a Hudson’s defender to make the shot and get awarded the and-1 foul call. Diaz missed his free throw too, but would chase down his own shot and get tied up with a Hudson’s player to force a jump ball. Possession: Hood River. It was a true dagger, and though the Eagles would turn the ball over on the inbound, they’d steal it back and run out the clock, clinching a victory that probably should not have been so close in the first place. It was exciting basketball, and if it’s what to expect from Hood River this season, the gym will be packed all season long.
“I think this was the biggest character test for us so far and I couldn’t be more pleased with how we responded,” said Dirks.
Top scorers for the Eagles were Diaz with 15, Webster with 11 and Flores with 10.