The Hawks had both games interrupted by weather over the weekend, but were able to play both, as Friday’s game at Arlington was moved to Thursday and Saturday’s home game against Dufur was moved to Monday. Horizon beat Arlington 61-54, but then fell to the No. 10 Dufur Rangers 69-55.
Horizon’s (12-10, 5-6 Big Sky) win over Arlington (12-8, 7-4) was another important one, as the Honkers, currently third place in the Big Sky Conference, are one spot above the Hawks. Horizon is looking to keep the Condon/Wheeler Knights at bay, who are lurking behind the Hawks in the fifth spot.
In what is becoming an encouraging trend for Horizon, the team’s inside shooting from the field was beyond reproach, with the Hawks hitting 22 of the 34 (65 percent) attempts from two-point range. A good chunk of that was thanks to Ian Walker and Derek Johnston — both of whom had their best games of the season. Walker scored a team-high 28 points, going 13-for-17 (76 percent), collecting five boards and recording four steals and an assist. Johnston had a double-double, scoring 16 points and collecting a team-high 11 rebounds and five steals, as well as tallying four assists.
The Hawks were able to build a lead as large as 11 points in the game, but the team had to work the entire 32 minutes of play to prevent the Honkers from mounting a rally, as they continued to pace the Hawks. Lingel was pleased with Walker’s performance, noting, “We had a lot of fast transition opportunities as well and he was leading that.” He also lauded the strides Johnston had made in his game.
“Derek has been very consistent as of late… he’s finally playing at the level I know he can play at,” Lingel said. “He’s one of the best players in the Big Sky.”
The same can be said for the rest of the team as well as the Hawks have overcome some tough matchups with league-leading Sherman and struggles with confidence that plagued the team earlier in the season. Lingel remarked on the team’s coachability and that despite the ups and downs, “they’ve been focusing on getting better,” and have been “building confidence as they go.”
The team did not fare as well against Dufur (15-2, 10-1) Monday evening, as a frantic transition game and the Rangers’ aggressive defense caused the Hawks to turn the ball over 34 times, which gave Dufur many more opportunities on offense. The Rangers had 64 shot attempts from the field compared to Horizon’s 41. The Rangers came out firing, outscoring Horizon 27-9 in the opening quarter, from which the Hawks couldn’t recover.
Despite Dufur’s defense, which forced the Hawks to shoot farther from the paint than they normally would care to, Horizon had another good shooting night, going 13-for-29 (45 percent) from two-point range, and having a surprisingly good night from beyond the arc thanks to Walker and Johnston. Walker was 4-for-6 from three-point range (67 percent) and Johnston was 4-for-4. Walker scored a team-high 20 points and Johnston had 17. The team also went 5-for-5 from the foul line, mostly because of Quinn Roetcisoender’s 4-for-4 performance. He would go on to score 12 Monday evening.
With the team wrapping up the regular season this week, and hanging onto the final spot to qualify for the district tournament, the Hawks can’t afford to drop any more games.
“We have to be more the aggressive team,” Lingel said. “We can’t sit back and get complacent.”
Horizon hosted South Wasco County (7-10, 4-6) Tuesday (results not available at press time) and then end the regular season hosting Mitchell/Spray (1-16, 0-11) Friday at 7:30 p.m. and then traveling to Ione (2-9, 3-16) Saturday at 5:30 p.m.