The Horizon girls and boys basketball teams are once again headed to the Big Sky district tournament this Friday and Saturday in Madras, wrapping up their regular season with some dominant wins over Mitchell/Spray and Ione last weekend and against South Wasco County Monday evening.
The boys will enter the tournament as a No. 3 seed and will play No. 2 Dufur at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the opening round of the tournament. Horizon lost to Dufur in both their meetings this season. The No. 2 girls will play No. 3 South Wasco County at 4:30 p.m. the same day. The girls beat South Wasco in both their meetings this year. Winners of the opening rounds will move to the championship game; losers will move to a consolation round. The top three finishers of the four-team tournament move on to the state tournament, which starts next week.
Though it wasn’t exactly a sure thing, the Hawks (15-10, 8-6 Big Sky) were in a good position to qualify for the Big Sky tournament heading into last weekend’s games, playing the bottom two teams in the league. The Hawks crushed both of them, defeating Mitchell/Spray (1-19, 0-14) in Hood River Friday by a score of 60-29, then traveling to Ione (4-18, 3-11) on Saturday, defeating the Cardinals 56-36, and finishing off the season with a big 54-38 win over South Wasco (9-12, 6-8).
The win over the Cardinals guaranteed the Hawks would finish no worse than fourth in the league and clinch a district tournament berth.
In the game against Mitchell/Spray, the Eagle/Loggers’ abysmal shooting, coupled with Horizon’s crushing defense, resulted in the team making just eight field goals during the game. Meanwhile, the Hawks continued to display their signature solid two-point shooting, hitting 29 of 49 attempts (59 percent), helping to give Horizon a 19-4 cushion in the opening quarter. Ian Walker went 6-for-10 from the field to score 12 points and collected nine rebounds — both team highs. William Decker was next with 10 on 5-for-8 shooting from the field. The lopsided contest allowed Head Coach Darrin Lingel to give more playing time to reserves Andrew Wells, Sam Schneider, and Kyle Brown, who scored eight, four, and two points, respectively.
It was more of the same the next night against Ione (complete stats were not available at press time), where the Hawks flew out in front of the Cardinals, building a 17-5 buffer in the opening eight minutes that kept the Cardinals at bay for the entire game. Walker again led the team with 14 points, Ethan Evans had 13, and Derek Johnston scored 11, hitting all three of the team’s made three-pointers that evening.
Johnston had an even better night Monday, going 6-for-7 on three-pointers and scoring a team-high 22 points that helped Horizon overcome a slow start against the Redsides. Down by one in the first quarter, Horizon outscored South Wasco 34-19 in the middle frames. Though the team overall didn’t shoot as well as they have as of late (20-for-52, 39 percent), the Hawks forced the Redsides to commit 32 turnovers, which gave Horizon far more field goal attempts. Bailey Holste also hit double digits in the game with 10 points.
For the girls (19-5, 13-1), the pressure was off as far as making the postseason was concerned, as the team had already locked up a Big Sky playoff berth the previous week. Like the boys, the struggling teams of Mitchell/Spray (2-17, 0-14) and Ione (3-19, 3-11) posed little threat to Horizon. The Hawks steamrolled both teams, defeating Mitchell/Spray 67-17 at home on Friday and then Ione 63-35 on the road Saturday. The Hawks then capped off their best season in program history with a commanding 51-34 win over South Wasco (12-9, 9-5) Those wins stretched the Hawks’ win streak to 11 — the program’s previous best win streak was six. The team hasn’t lost a game in the past month.
On Friday, Horizon’s full-court press put Mitchell/Spray into a meltdown, and caused the team to turn the ball over 21 times in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Hawks dropped 39 in the first half and held the Eagle/Loggers to just eight. As always, Paulina Finn led what has become one of the most potent offenses in the state, recording a triple-double with 29 points, 14 rebounds and 12 steals, and padded her stats sheet with five assists and three blocks. Jodee Hicks had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Kaitlyn Wenz had a team-high 15 rebounds and six steals.
The game against Ione was not much different. The Hawks unleashed an offensive barrage of 21 points in the first quarter, and their press limited the Cardinals to just four points, effectively ending the game before it had much of a chance to get underway. Finn recorded another triple-double (13 points, 13 rebounds, 12 steals, seven assists, five blocks) — her sixth of the year — but it was Wenz who led Horizon in both scoring and rebounding, achieving a double-double with 23 points and 16 boards, adding six steals and three assists. Hicks hit double digits with 10 rebounds and also put up nine points, five blocks, four steals, and two assists.
The last meeting between Horizon and South Wasco, the Hawks squeaked out a three-point win. This time, Horizon’s press got the better of the Redsides, as the Hawks wailed on their opponent 20-3 in the second quarter and held onto their lead for the rest of the game. Wenz garnered a triple-double with an absurd stat line of 13 points, 22 rebounds (12 of which were offensive), and 11 steals. Finn had a double-double with 12 rebounds and a team-high 22 points (eight steals, five assists three blocks), and Hicks had 10 rebounds (six points, three blocks).