In a nail-biting Friday night game, Hood River Valley’s varsity boys basketball team defeated Pendleton High School 64-56. Christopher Dirks, head coach for the Eagles, said the team has found its stride late in the season.
“What a great team performance from the boys,” Dirks said. “I was very proud of how they carried themselves and put our program on display. The guys have set themselves aside and are buying into the team first. It’s awesome to be a part of.”
The Eagle boys started the game strong scoring 19 points in the first quarter and 15 in the second. The Bucks, however, managed to score four in the first quarter and 22 in the second.
“They came out and they were ready to play. We didn’t come to play,” Zach Dong, head coach for Pendleton, said. “They did a great job and held us to four points in the first quarter and that was a big difference in the game. We dug ourselves into a hole and they did a good job of making us dig that hole.”
It was an uphill battle for Pendleton, but they hustled, worked and eventually took the lead at the end of the third quarter.
“I think they realized they didn’t come out with a ton of intensity (in the first half),” Dong said. “That’s one of the things that we challenged them with at halftime. Come out and you know that they’re going to come after you and we got to match that intensity or go one step above it. We did for the most part.”
As the game entered the fourth quarter, HRV’s squad was not ready to lose the game and turned up its intensity. Especially sophomore Emanuel Romero, who scored 12 points in the final quarter and received “MVP” chants when he would shoot free throws.
“The past few games, we have played great defense in the first half, and that was the story again with Pendleton,” Dirks said. “We held them to 4 points in the first quarter. We know they are a good team and that they would go on a run of their own at some point, but we kept our composer and are learning how to close out games.”
With only two more games left in the regular season, Dirks acknowledges the importance of them and explained it to the team.
“Before the game I wrote ‘4-0, Playoffs. Do we want it?’ We know we are in a place where we need to win to get where we want to be,” Dirks said. “After the game I erased the 4-0 and changed it to 3-0. That is what we are focused on. We have three more games we believe we can win. We are going to prepare for (our next game) and worry about the rest as they come.”
Dirks and the Eagle boys next face Redmond in an away game Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m.