HERMISTON — It never fails when it comes time to play a big rivalry game, that either one team will win handily or it will come down to the wire and the winner will narrowly escape with the victory.
At least that’s what the Pendleton’s girl head coach Kevin Porter was saying to a friend before Tuesday night’s big rivalry, and in Hermiston, the Buckaroos do the latter.
First, holding the lead. Then, entering halftime down by two only to finish with a 17-point fourth quarter that sealed the 49-45 win over the Bulldogs.
“It doesn’t matter level of sport, or what sport you’re talking about, rivalries are a flip of a coin and we came out on top tonight,” Porter said. “I’m awful excited about it, obviously. But Hermiston played a great game and we just made a few more plays coming down the stretch.
“I told the girls before the game, if we execute we can win this game, and we did (that). To me, that’s the difference.”
The Buckaroos (12-6 overall, 3-0 Columbia River Conference) were finally able to take control of the lead, a lead they had held until the final 00.2 seconds of the second quarter.
Senior Kalan McGlothan, the team’s top scorer, hit a field goal to knot the score at 38 points apiece. Sophomore Samantha Spriet followed that up with two made free throws — her only points of the game — to put Pendleton up 40-39 with 3:58 left on the game clock.
In the final three minutes of play, the Bulldogs (6-12, 2-1) came close to having the advantage, tying the score again at 45-45 with 58.7 left, but the Bucks were able to make some last second baskets from the charity stripe to stretch their narrow lead.
McGlothan led the efforts with a team-best 22 points. Fellow seniors Jaiden Lemberger and Maureen Davies followed with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
While the big three are Pendleton’s top scorers, it was a full on team effort that helped the Bucks defeated the cross-town foe in the first of a three game series.
“Every single kid, including the managers that were on that bench contributed,” Porter said. “Whether they were cheering, whether they made a basket or they went in for 30 seconds and gave somebody a blow on defense, offense — every single person on our bench and the crowd, they all get credit.”
Pendleton started the game up 16-12 after the first quarter. McGlothan led those efforts for the Bucks, and junior Jordan Thomas — who ended the night with a game-high 22 points — was off to a good start with a third of Hermiston’s opening baskets.
At the end of the second quarter, the Bulldogs went on an 11-1 run to go into the break up 27-25. They went on to outscore Pendleton 15-9 in the second.
Senior Hannah Thompson capped off the run by making two clutch free throws before the teams headed to the locker rooms.
“At halftime we said we needed to keep pushing, and keep playing and not give up,” Thompson said. “We worked our way back up and we were proud of that, but then we said, ‘Okay, we need to keep doing that and not give up.”
Coming out of the break, Hermiston again had the advantage over Pendleton, and increased its lead to 36-32 going into the final quarter.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort that the game slipped away from the Bulldogs, as kept the pressure on Pendleton in the final seconds to force a turnover and attempt a game-tying 3-pointer.
Thompson’s shot from the edge of the arc missed, ricocheting off the rim to give the ball back to the Bucks for their final point of the game.
“We were proud of ourselves, because we didn’t give up,” Thompson said. “We could have easily hung our heads and said we were down and just stop playing, but we stayed in the game and kept playing and we kept it close.”
Hermiston will have a quick turnaround to rebound from the loss when the Bulldogs host The Dalles at 7 p.m. Friday.
Pendleton will continue its road trip Friday with a game in Hood River.
PHS 16 9 7 17 — 49
HHS 12 15 9 9 — 45
PENDLETON — K. McGlothan 12, J. Lemberger 11, M. Davies 10, J. Wilson 6, H. Porter 3. S. Spriet 2, K. Gentner 2, K. Bradt 2.
HERMISTON — J. Thomas 22, J. Romero 8, H. Thompson 8, M. Juul 5, M. Wilson 2.
3-pointers — PHS 2, HHS 3. Free throws — PHS 17-34, HHS 12-17. Fouls — PHS 13, HHS 20.
Contact Alexis at email@example.com or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.