What began as a close match up quickly turned into a lopsided duel as the Hood River Valley High School Girls Basketball team lost to The Dalles on Tuesday night at home, the final score 50-24. Despite the loss, the home game was a special occasion for the Eagles, as they celebrated their departing players with Senior Night. The seniors honored were Haylee Baker, Bailey Frazier, Haley Hughes, Daniela Valle and Lizzie Weekly.
“Senior Night is always bittersweet,” said coach Donnie Herneisen. “They’ve all grown so much over the years and really developed into leaders and fantastic people. We will definitely miss them.”
The Eagles coordinated a unique moment for Hughes and Weekly, both of whom are injured. When the five seniors took the court for tip-off, Weekly stood at center court to contest despite her hobbled walk and large leg brace. Hughes stood beside her. The official tossed the ball up, The Dalles player offered no contest and Weekly grabbed the ball for herself in a ceremonial gesture that, while technically a turnover, was endearing and thematic of what Senior Night is all about.
“It was the least we could do to get those girls on their home court one last time,” said Herneisen.
“It was fun because I’ve been playing basketball with these girls all these years,” said Frazier. “It was memorable to see Lizzie get her last moment of basketball on the court.”
Both Weekly and Hughes were immediately subbed out and the game began. Hood River held their own in the first quarter, playing with an energy that only a rivalry game on Senior Night could generate. They pressured the ball on defense, spread the floor on offense and drove hard to the basket or lofted up good outside shots. With a couple of threes from Frazier and Kaitlyn McNerney and a fast break lay up by Morgan Baker on an outlet pass from her sister, the Eagles were right in the mix with the Riverhawks when the first quarter ended.
“We came out fired up in the first quarter, and even though we weren’t shooting well we were up for a bit midway through,” said Herneisen.
The strong start could not persist, however, as HRV would score a lone basket in the second quarter and The Dalles would soar ahead with the lead. The Riverhawks were taller and stronger than the Eagles and took advantage of that size down low, putting up countless baskets in the post and grabbing 20 offensive rebounds to Hood River’s three. Hood River found no help from the officials as well, who seemed to have taken the “just let them play” philosophy and radicalized it; hacks, blocks and hand checks went unnoticed or simply ignored. Regardless, the game held exciting moments despite its overall disappointing results, and threads of potential ran through the younger Eagle players that should make any fan hopeful for the seasons to come.
“After a week of not being allowed to practice due to the weather and closed facilities, and then back-to-back games, this is not all that shocking,” said Herneisen. “It’s tough to have these kinds of interruptions to your season and then get back on track in meaningful games right away.”
Scoring for Hood River were Morgan Baker with seven, Kaitlyn McNerney with six, Dani Valle with five, Bailey Frazier with three, Haylee Baker with two and Molly Routson with one. The Eagles played Thursday against Pendleton in the first round of a District tournament and lost, 39-18, with Haylee Baker scoring 14, Morgan Baker scoring three and McNerney scoring one. As a result, Hood River will play Monday against a currently undetermined opponent; this game will likely be their last.