Wednesday, February 9, 2011/lk
In the grand scheme of things, Tuesday's game between Hermiston and Hood River Valley meant very little.
That's a good thing for the HRV girls.
Hermiston used a 30-point surge in the third quarter to wipe out the Eagles and remain undefeated in Columbia River Conference play 78-45.
The Eagles played most of the night without point guard Jaci Bryant, who suffered a hyper-extended knee against The Dalles last Friday and was only cleared to play about an hour before tipoff.
With Bryant on the bench early, the Eagles got off to a hot start and let 15-12 after one quarter, but things broke down from there as Hermiston turned up the pressure with its full-court press.
"At the end of the second we started getting pressed and they got like six points in a row," HRV coach Tom Ames said.
Bryant played through the second quarter, then played a stint in the third before tweaking her hip and staying out of the fourth quarter.
By that point both teams were putting in their second string to close out the game.
After taking a 13-point lead to the break, the Bulldogs blew the game open in the third quarter with a 30-13 swing.
With Bryant injured, the Bulldogs blanketed leading Eagle scorer Angie Titus to force the Eagles to turn to other options.
Titus finished with 16 points but after the first quarter no other Eagle could get going as a viable scoring option.
Logan Bailey had seven points, all in the first quarter, and no other HRV player had more than four points.
"We didn't do anything to knock them off," Ames said.
Meanwhile, Hermiston had no problem finding scoring options with three players in double digits, led by Heidi Walchli with 19. Maloree Moss had 15, including eight in the second quarter, and Courtney Walchli had 13 points, with seven in the third.
Andrea Waters added nine points and Jeni Hoffert had eight for the Bulldogs.
With the undefeated Bulldogs out of the way for another week, the Eagles turned their sights to two critical road games for playoff positioning.
The Eagles were traveling to Pendleton Friday to play the Buckaroos and then play at The Dalles Tuesday.
Heading into Friday Pendleton was in fourth place at 1-6, but just a game back of the Eagles who are 2-5.
Meanwhile, TDW is a full two games up on HRV in second place at 4-3 after beating the Eagles twice this season.
The No. 2 spot is a vital one in the conference standings. While the No. 3 seed gets a bye in the first play-in round, their second-round game is on the road against the No. 4 team from the Northwest Oregon Conference (currently 8-9 Milwaukie). The No. 4 seed has to play in the opening play in round and then play at the PIL No. 1 seed in the second round with a win, while the No. 2 team would host the No. 6 team from the Northwest Oregon Conference (currently 4-13 Putnam).
"It's our season," Ames said of what hinges on the next two games.
Win both and the Eagles are right back in the hunt for the second spot; split and they can keep the third seed; but a two-game sweep would mean they could be looking at the fourth spot in the league standings.
At Hermiston, the HRV?boys lost 78-44.