HERMISTON — After winning its first two home games last week, Hermiston had momentum on its side entering Tuesday’s match up against Cleveland. The Bulldogs were on a three-game winning streak that started on the road at the Holiday Inn WIT Tournament.
But that momentum came to a screeching halt in the final two quarters against the Warriors.
Cleveland broke out, with the help of senior Sethon Moore, and skated away with a 69-60 win at the Dawg House.
After it was all said and done, there was one thing on head coach Casey Arstein’s mind: turnovers.
“Turnovers killed us,” he said, “and not getting stops when we needed to. (Cleveland went) on that 14-0 run, and then we cut it to four and we get a rebound so we can cut it to two or three and we turn the ball over in a transition situation.”
“Those things add up,” he added, “and we had one of those same situations in the first half where we had a transition and tried to dribble behind our back and we turned it over.”
After chipping away at an early deficit, Hermiston entered the half with a narrow three point lead, up 36-33.
Late in the third quarter the Bulldogs extended their lead to 48-39, their largest of the night, and that’s when the Warriors went on their 14-0 run.
From the last three minutes of the third quarter to the first two of the fourth, Cleveland held Hermiston at bay while knocking down jumpers and getting nearly every rebound. Leading the charge was Moore, who in that five minute span scored eight of the 14 points.
Like Arstein described, the Bulldogs slowly but surely climbed out of the hole they dug themselves into with four clutch free throws by junior Ryne Andreason — who ended the night with a team-high 15 points.
After getting within four points of Cleveland with two minutes left on the clock, Hermiston stayed getting into foul trouble. Junior Andrew James — who played his first minutes since a back injury sustained at end of the football season — and senior Cesar Ortiz both picked up their fourth foul seconds apart.
Junior Jordan Ramirez, who was benched earlier after picking up his fourth, was out for good after getting called for his fifth foul with only seconds remaining.
The early foul trouble that Ramirez was in hurt the Bulldogs, as they allowed silly mistakes and sloppy play without the starting point guard in.
“When Jordan got in foul trouble it felt like we turned the ball over a lot and guys (felt) a little bit pressure — just from running our stuff I didn’t want to try to run a set every time, I just wanted to play,” Arstein said. “I thought we forced a lot, forced a lot of dumb passes and forced some dumb shots. We shoot better off of assists and we had some guys just jacking stuff up.”
With Ramirez out, another star point guard took over. But he wasn’t in purple and white.
Moore led the Warriors with a game-high 24 points, 18 of which came in the second half, and when his shots kept falling, Hermiston’s weren’t.
“It just allows them to get back on defense and build their defense and it just doesn’t allow us to build our offense up,” Ortiz said of Cleveland’s late success.
Despite the loss, there were moments were the Bulldogs shined and perhaps the brightest was were from sophomore Sergio Madrigal.
“I thought Sergio did a great job,” Arstein said. “He’s only a sophomore and plays pretty much 30-25 minutes of (junior varsity), so I was proud of him.”
When Madrigal entered the game minutes into the second half, both teams were trading the lead.
Cleveland was up 22-18 after the first quarter, but Hermiston again fought back at the charity stripe to knot the score at 24 points apiece.
With one minute left until the break, the score was tied again at 33-33 and that’s when Madrigal hit a 3-pointer that spun around the rim and just as the ball looked like it was going to fall into the hands of a Warrior, it hit the net to give the Bulldogs at 36-33 lead at halftime.
Their back-to-back 18 point quarters in the first half kept Hermiston in the game, but after Cleveland outscored the Bulldogs 36-24 in the second half, it was the Warriors who came out on top.
Hermiston will need to quickly shake this game off as the Bulldogs have a very quick turn around, traveling to Walla Walla on Wednesday for its home opener. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
CHS 22 11 17 19 — 69
HHS 18 18 12 12 — 60
CLEVELAND — S. Moore 24, R. Anderson 16, J. Rodrick 10, J. Sanders 7, J. Joseph 4, A. Osman 2, J. Bolger 2.
HERMISTON — R. Andreason 15, C. Ortiz 13, J. Ramirez 9, P. Wicks 7, S. Madrigal 4, C. Smith 3.
3-pointers — CHS 2, HHS 8. Free throws — CHS 11-19, HHS 20-25. Fouls — CHS 23 (Sanders fouled out), HHS 21 (Ramirez fouled out).
Contact Alexis at email@example.com or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.