PENDLETON — One week ago, the Pendleton boys basketball team left Warberg Court on Friday night a bit dejected following an unsightly loss to Walla Walla. The Buckaroos fell out of a rhythm and communication wained as they scored all of seven points in the second half, resulting in their second consecutive loss and dropping themselves to .500 on the season.
But after a few days of practice, the Buckaroos got some swagger back. And one week later, the same Buckaroo team walked out of Warberg Court on Friday night with smiles on their faces and more bounce in their step following a 59-36 victory over Rex Putnam, the team’s second straight victory.
“We kind of got punched in the mouth there and had to look ourselves in the mirror and figure out who we are and what we’re going to be,” Pendleton coach Kyle Tedder said after the game. “By no means are we there yet, but we’ve definitely made some strides and guys are stepping up and starting to figure it out and trust each other.”
And Friday’s game was a night where the Buckaroos (5-3) really had to come together. The team did not shoot well from outside the paint, with 36 of the 59 points coming inside the paint after going ice cold from 3-point range (3 of 17). What the Buckaroos did do well was show the trust that is developing amongst the group, highlighted by solid ball movement throughout the game to finish with 16 assists as a team.
“I think that’s what I’m most happy about,” Tedder said of the assist total. “Two things we always talk about are rebounding and sharing the basketball and when you look at the stats, 16 assists in a game will win you a lot of games.”
Tyler Newsom took another step in his development as Pendleton’s go-to guy on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting, with his only misses coming from behind the 3-point arc. He also produced team highs with five assists and 13 rebounds — five of which came on the offensive end. But the Buckaroos had the benefit of their secondary guys continuing to step up with solid production that helped set them apart from the Kingsmen (0-6).
Ryan Russell scored eight points with six rebounds, Richard Scott had eight points and four boards, and Dante Jackson played perhaps his best game of the young season with seven points two rebounds and one steal.
“Guys like Dante and Richard have been waiting a long time to get their opportunity,” Tedder said. “Tonight was probably Dante’s best night not only scoring but being solid all around and Richard’s been unbelievable as a guy who’s waited and waited and has taken ahold of his opportunity. I’m proud of that kid and those seniors that are stepping up, it’s pretty fun and special to watch.”
Pendleton led by only four points at the end of the first quarter and led 33-20 at the break, but it held a lead of at least 10 points for the entire second half partially due to a stout defensive effort as well. The Buckaroos’ variation of the 2-3 zone gave the Kingsmen some fits, as the visitors shot just 30 percent from the floor for the game, went 0-for-14 from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 12 times.
“We have a young team, but communication on defense is what we have going well,” Ryan Russell said. “Just keep the hands up and we pride ourselves in our defense and I think we’re really good in that 2-3, pretty tough to beat in the 2-3.”
Tedder was also proud of the defense, especially to the fact that Putnam scored only five points in the final eight minutes.
“My goal for them is (no more than) 12 a quarter and 48 for the game and we held them under 12 each quarter and only five in the fourth, and if you do that consistently you put yourself in a really good spot to be successful,” Tedder said.
Pendleton now has 13 days off of game action for Christmas break before it heads to Bend for a three-day tournament beginning Dec. 28. But the Buckaroos feel a lot better about themselves heading into the break than they did just seven days ago.
“With that tournament coming up, some of the best teams in the state,” Russell said, “oh man, two wins in a row is a huge confidence boost for us right now.”
RP 10 10 11 5 — 36
PHS 14 19 10 16 — 59
REX PUTNAM — J. Britt 13, R. Onishchenko 9, B. Miller 8, D. Davis 5, T. Washington 1.
PENDLETON — T. Newsom 20, R. Scott 8, R. Russell 8, D. Jackson 7, W. Camp 4, S. Jerome 4, C. Sandford 3, D. Sams 3, K. Broncheau 2, G. Lee, M. Gallegos.
3-pointers — RP 0, PHS 3. Free throws — RP 8-12, PHS 12-16. Fouls — RP 13, PHS 13.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.