HERMISTON — For the fans that were in the stands at the Dawg House for the Hermiston girls basketball team’s last two games, their blood pressure likely rose as the visiting schools kept things close against the Bulldogs.
On Tuesday, the outcome didn’t favor the home team, dropping their first league game to Pendleton. However, on Friday night, Hermiston was able to stop two of The Dalles’ big runs to hold on for a 52-46 victory.
Now more than a third of the way through Columbia River Conference play, the Bulldogs (7-12 overall, 3-1 CRC) will take any win they can get — even if it’s not the prettiest.
“You could definitely tell there was a little bit of a hangover (from Tuesday),” head coach Juan Rodriguez said. “There was a lot of disappointment where we played a pretty good game and just didn’t finish the game off and you could tell that tonight.
“It’s a little bit of a trap game when you beat a team by 30 the first time at their place and you’re coming off a tough loss, and you end up playing like that.”
Hermiston entered the third quarter up 25-16 after a 13-4 run left the Riverhawks (6-12, 0-4) in the dust. But The Dalles seemed to have left its shooting woes in the locker room and came out firing, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers — all of which off the hands of senior Paulina Finn.
Then with three minutes left in the third, fellow senior Jodi Thomasian did a spin move around her Bulldog defender for a lay-in that put the Riverhawks within two possessions of their first lead of the night.
The Dalles wouldn’t get that close to Hermiston again until two minutes into the fourth quarter. Another three, this time by junior Molly Taylor, put visitors within one point of Hermiston.
The narrow 37-36 lead was extended when the Bulldogs outscored the Riverhawks 7-2 over the next three minutes. But The Dalles weren’t done yet.
In the first half, the Riverhawks were held to only 16 points — scoring eight apiece in the first and second quarters — but they were able to hit shots when they were left open on the perimeter and with defenders in their face inside.
With 2:14 left in the game, The Dalles would once again come close to finally topping Hermiston.
Sophomore Jazlyn Romero made a falling lay-in to put the Bulldogs up 46-41, but Thomasian answered with a layup of her own as she waited inside for a between-the-legs pass that put the Riverhawks back within one possession.
A solid defensive performance and four made free throws from Romero sealed the deal for Hermiston, but the win wasn’t an easy one to come by.
A key for the Bulldogs was to not let The Dalles get open shots. In their previous matchup that opened CRC play on Jan. 19, the hosting Riverhawks had trouble making contested shots which allowed the Bulldogs to win by a 30-plus point margin.
Friday, however, the winter flu bug caught up with some players and regular starter, junior Maddi Wilson had to sit out.
“Defensively, we had to change stuff up because Maddi Wilson wasn’t playing,” Rodriguez said. “Maddy Juul had to play a lot more minutes than I wanted her too and she can’t guard on the perimeter as well as Maddi Wilson can and we had to play a little bit of a zone for most of the game, which gave them open shots.”
The Riverhawks ended with eight three’s and were led by Thomasian, who had 14 points on the night. Finn was the only other player to score in double digits for The Dalles, cashing in four three’s for 12 points.
To open the game, Hermiston was fighting off some good looks The Dalles were getting. A long three from Finn cut the Riverhawks deficit to 10-8 with 1:18 left in the first quarter. If it wasn’t for that big run to end the second and give the Bulldogs the lead entering halftime, tonight’s outcome could have been much different.
“I feel like we could have done more in that game because there was a big point difference the last time (we faced The Dalles),” Romero said. “We could have done a better job this time but it’s a win.”
Rodriguez echoed that sentiment as Hermiston is looking down to the brunt of its league schedule.
“I’m just happy with a win right now, and that we got out of there with a win and made some plays down the stretch that got us that win.”
Romero led the Bulldogs’ efforts with a game-high of 19 points. Junior Jordan Thomas chipped in 15.
Hermiston will hit the road for a three-game away trip. It’s first stop in Hood River on Tuesday.
TDHS 8 8 15 15 — 46
HHS 12 13 10 17 — 52
THE DALLES — J. Thomasian 14, P. Finn 12, B. Lebreton 8, K. Hoylman 5, M. Taylor 3, J. Miller 2, L. Belanger 2.
HERMISTON — J. Romero 19, J. Thomas 15, M. Juul 5, R. Meyers 4, H. Thompson 4, J. Ray 3, S. Stefani 2.
3-pointers — TDHS 8, HHS 3. Free throws — TDHS 4-5, HHS 13-21. Fouls — TDHS 21, HHS 11.
Contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.