The Hood River Valley High School boys basketball team saw a whirlwind last two weeks of the season: The Eagles had capped an undefeated Intermountain Conference season, waited out cancelled or rescheduled games, followed by a makeshift IMC tournament, and earned a state tournament playoff game — the first for HRVHS in 25 years.
Yet the season ended in disappointment Friday with a home loss to LaSalle in the opening round of the 5A tournament for third-year coach Chris Dirks’ team.
The quickness and size of LaSalle, combined with poor shooting by the Eagles, left HRV on the short end of the 63-49 score. Noah Webster led Hood River with 13 points, Carson Flores added 12 and Cruise Hawk and German Diaz both had eight. Sophomore Ian Searcy came off the bench in the second half to hit a pair of shots and grab rebounds and a steal to energize the Eagles.
“We came a long way from the beginning. We checked all those accomplishments off,” Flores said after the game. “Winning IMC for the first time in a long time felt very good. Tonight, we just weren’t hitting our shots. We weren’t running our offense good at all, executing.”
The Eagles led 14-10 after a first quarter when both teams set the stage with ball-hawking defense to go with serial turnovers. But the Falcons came out fast in the second, hitting an immediate three to start a 12-1 run hallmarked by defensive rebounds and break-away layups. For the rest of the game, Hood River played catch-up but never cut the score to fewer than seven points.
In the final quarter, the Eagles twice tantalizingly cut a 14-point LaSalle lead to eight points thanks to a combination of steals by Webster and Diaz, and late threes by Diaz and Flores.
LaSalle, meanwhile, hit seven threes to Hood River’s trio of long-balls, including four in the second half.
The Eagles’ best chance down the stretch came with 3:43 left when Diaz was fouled and hit two foul shots to narrow the lead to 52-43. LaSalle hit a three seconds later, and Flores responded with a three of his own. But repeated drives in the lane by Webster, Diaz and Flores proved futile. They drew double-and triple-teams, and resulted in misses, non-calls and, with 2:56 left, an offensive foul call on Diaz with HRVHS down 11.
In the final three minutes, the Eagles had to repeatedly foul the Falcons, who went 12-14 from the line in the second half. Hood River hit just eight of 17 from the line in the first half, and four of six in the second half.