HERMISTON — In the two teams last matchup of the season, Hermiston had a few goals when The Dalles came to town Tuesday.
A win would mean the Bulldogs will be playing for the conference championship against Pendleton next Tuesday and defensively, they had to stop the Riverhawks’ top shooter in senior Dakota Murr.
Both of those goals were accomplished in the 46-41 victory over The Dalles, even if it wasn’t in the prettiest manner.
“Sometimes you’ve got to win ugly, and it was ugly,” head coach Casey Arstein said. “I thought the kids did some good things defensively but at the same time, we let them crawl back into it, but a win is a win right now.”
The Bulldogs (10-11 overall, 5-2 Columbia River Conference) held a 33-24 lead going into the fourth quarter. After upping their advantage to as many as 15 points in the first half, Hermiston allowed the wrong Riverhawk shooter to find his rhythm but surprisingly, it wasn’t Murr — who scored 28 points the last time he was in the Dawg House.
Sophomore Jacob Hernandez began to cut away at The Dalles’ deficit in the third quarter when he scored seven of its last nine points.
By that point, Hermiston was still up 33-24 but Hernandez was there again at the start of the fourth to pull the Riverhawks (10-11, 2-5) within striking distance.
Hernandez pitched in 10 of the 17 fourth quarter points for The Dalles, three of which were an on and and-1 that turned the game into a one possession showdown.
The Bulldogs weren’t able to record a point for three minutes while the Riverhawks went on their 15-6 run to knot the score at 39 points apiece.
After Hernandez’s successful 3-point play, Murr tied things up with his lone three of the night. Murr finished with only nine points.
The game remained within one possession until the final 30 seconds of play when Hermiston junior Ryne Andreason stepped to the charity stripe. Andreason had been fouled collecting the ball from a block Murr shot, just a minute after his lay-in gave Hermiston its lead back.
Up by one possession, Andreason missed the first one.
“I knew I had to make the free throws,” he said. “The first one, there’s no excuses, I just missed it.”
But he had no problems hitting the second, and helped push the lead to 45-41.
The Dalles late efforts weren’t successful and Hermiston took one more trip to the free-throw line to reach the game-winning score.
The first half defensive performance from the Bulldogs held the Riverhawks to only 12 points, completely shutting down Murr. For a while, The Dalles’ only chance at points were inside where 6-foot-1 senior Henry Lee record all six of his.
Hernandez finished with a game-high 19 points.
Andreason led the Bulldogs with 16 points, and junior Adrian Mendez chipped in 10 of his own.
Hermiston will hit the road Friday to face Hood River Valley. Despite being up two games to none against the Eagles, neither of those games were easy. In Hood River, Hermiston came back from a late deficit to pull off the victory and last week at home, the Bulldogs beat the Eagles in single overtime.
TDHS 4 8 12 17 — 41
HHS 13 8 12 13 — 46
THE DALLES — J. Hernandez 19, D. Murr 9, H. Lee 6, O. Fernandez 3, J. Bonham 2, D. Seufalemua 2.
HERMISTON — R. Andreason 16, A. Mendez 10, J. Ramirez 7, A. James 6, C. Ortiz 4, A. Earl 3.
3-pointers — TDHS 3, HHS 3. Free throws — TDHS 10-11, HHS 10-22.
Contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.