PENDLETON — As a junior, Richard Scott and his 6-foot-5 frame was stuck on Pendleton’s junior varsity roster, blocked at the forward position on varsity by talented players such as Johnny Stuvland.
He played some garbage time minutes on the varsity roster last season, but for the most part Scott quietly worked to develop his game and wait until his number was called. Scott’s time to shine finally came this season as a senior and he has not disappointed, as he’s become a force in the paint for the Buckaroos this season.
On Friday night, Scott played a key role for the Buckaroos again. He scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds — three offensive — and blocked two shots as Pendleton defeated The Dalles 69-53 in the Buckaroos’ regular-season finale at Warberg Court.
“This seasons’ been a blast,” Scott said with a smile after the game. “Even last season watching those guys work and working under them and having them help develop my skill was big. But this year’s been a really fun time getting a lot of minutes and helping my team.”
Scott is one of six Buckaroo seniors that were honored prior to their final home game on Friday night, joining Shaw Jerome, Ryan Russell, Dante Jackson, Martin Gallegos and Greg Lee. As a whole, the senior class isn’t a flashy one with a lot of skill, but a cohesive one full of guys that waited for their moment and have helped the Buckaroos in many ways in their four years.
“Richard, Dante, Martin, those guys have really put in their time,” Pendleton coach Kyle Tedder said, “and when you have guys like Shaw and (Russell) who have started for two years, too, it’s awesome to see them all collectively come together and I’m proud of each one of them. They’ve really helped me out over the last couple of years and we’ve developed some really strong relations ships and I’m going to miss them.”
Tedder started five seniors and all six played significant roles in Friday’s game, with Tedder afterward saying that he wanted to give his guys the time to shine that they earned. All but Jackson earned their way onto the scoresheet, though Jackson contributed his usual excellent defense as well as three rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot.
After trading the lead with the Riverhawks for most of the first quarter, the Buckaroos jumped in front for good with 1:25 left on a deep three-pointer from Dakota Sams for an 11-9 advantage. The Bucks built up the lead to double digits quickly into the second quarter and it dipped under that mark only one time in the second half as the shorthanded Riverhawks — playing with only eight players — just didn’t have enough to firepower to make a big run.
Though the Riverhawks did make the Buckaroos and their fans just a bit nervous late in the fourth quarter when they forced some Buckaroo turnovers and hit some big shots, whittling the deficit from 19 to 10 with five minutes left. However, unlike in some recent games such as the collapse against Hood River, the Buckaroos stayed composed to keep a comfortable lead.
“I feel like we really made a conscious effort to really come together as a team,” Scott said. “We started to really move the ball around and really play with eachother rather than crumble apart when adversity comes.”
Tyler Newsome again led the Buckaroos’ offense with a game-high 23 points to go with 14 rebounds, four assists and four steals. Sams contributed 17 points off the bench, and Jerome had a solid game with seven points and a team-best six assists.
Dakota Murr led the Riverhawks with 21 points.
Pendleton’s win sets up a winner-take-all game at Hermiston on Tuesday, where the Bucks will play for their fourth straight Columbia River Conference championship. And on top of that, the Bucks have a chance for the final bragging rights over the rival Bulldogs.
“We just have to be ready to play hard,” Tedder said. “Over the next couple of days we’ll rest up, heal up and we’ll be ready to roll and it’s going to be fun and hopefully we come out on top.”
TDS 9 12 8 24 — 53
PHS 16 15 17 21 — 69
THE DALLES — D. Murr 21, O. Fernandez 12, J. Nisbet 10, J. Knotts 5, D. Seufalemua 4, H. Lee 1.
PENDLETON — T. Newsom 23, D. Sams 17, R. Scott 10, S. Jerome 7, R. Russell 4, G. Lee 3, M. Gallegos 3, W. Camp 2, D. Jackson.
3-pointers — TDS 3, PHS 4. Free throws — TDS 8-12, PHS 21-33. Fouls — TDS 22, PHS 10.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.