By Alexis Mansanarez
HERMISTON — Four years ago, Ryne Andreason was playing on an AAU team and not yet walking the halls of Hermiston High.
On Tuesday, his 3-pointer put the Bulldogs up one possession over the visiting Pendleton Buckaroos with mere seconds left in the Columbia River Conference title game.
The play and that shot was what Andreason has spent the better part of 10 years working on, and it all paid off when Hermiston was claimed CRC championship for the first time in four years.
“It’s what we’ve been working hard for our entire lives,” Andreason said. “We’ve been watching these high school games since first grade, it’s just, it’s amazing. It really is.”
At the Dawg House, Hermiston knocked off the three-time CRC champions 50-46. But like most of their games as of late, the Bulldogs’ win didn’t come without some nail biting moments.
After Hermiston held a narrow 24-21 lead at the half, Pendleton looked to reliable shooters in Shaw Jerome and Tyler Newsom to chip away at the deficit.
By the end of the third, the Buckaroos (14-10 overall, 6-3 CRC) were up 35-34 after holding Hermiston to its lowest offensive output (10 points) of the four quarters played.
There were two ties and one lead change to open the fourth, and after nearly three full minutes of the score being tied at 39-39, Newsom hit a three from the left corner to put Pendleton up 39-42.
The Bulldogs (12-11, 7-2) then saw themselves down by two possessions after Willie Camp banked a pair of free throws with 1:30 left to play.
Camp, Pendleton’s sleeping giant, came alive in the final regular season game. He finished the game with 14 points, only two behind a team best from Newsom, and was key in giving the Bucks some momentum before the break despite being trailing by three points.
Not only did Camp come through for Pendleton, but he also aided Hermiston’s efforts in the fourth quarter.
Down 44-39 after Camp’s made free-throw attempts, he fouled Andrew James as James was driving to the basket. The three point play would have put the Bulldogs within one possession, but Camp — clearly frustrated — yelled an expletive within an ear shot of the referee and was handed a technical.
Hermiston converted the four-point play, and took the lead on the ensuing possession with a field goal from Andreason.
Now, up 45-44, the one-point lead would have assured Hermiston a victory but in an effort to stop the clock and with the hope of Hermiston missing a free throw or two, Pendleton’s Ryan Russell fouled out sending Andreason to the line.
Andreason’s first shot from the charity strip, missed. His second, found the basket to inch the Bulldogs’ advantage to 46-44.
But before Hermiston reached its game-winning score, the Bulldogs had to sit through another pair of Camp free throws that kept the Bucks alive.
That’s when head coach Casey Arstein drew up the play that would have Jordan Ramirez come off a screen, attack the paint and kick.
Andreason was the one on the receiving end of that pass, and as one of two Bulldogs who has been dependable behind the arc, hit the shot of his life.
“I’m okay with him shooting that shot anytime,” Arstein said. “He’s one of the best shooters in the league.”
Andreason finished with a game-high 21 points. Ramirez finished with nine and Ortiz followed with eight points of his own.
Despite the win, Hermiston’s fate is not yet determined. All the Bulldogs know is that they will be playing a week from Saturday.
PHS 9 12 14 11 — 46
HHS 12 12 10 16 — 50
PENDLETON — T. Newsom 16, W. Camp 14, S. Jerome 8,
R. Russell 4, D. Sams 2, D. Jackson 2.
HERMISTON — R. Andreason 21, J. Ramirez 9, C. Ortiz 8, A. Mendez 5, A. James 3, A. Earl 3, T. McCullough 2.
3-pointers — PHS 2, HHS 5. Free throws — PHS 6-12, HHS 13-21. Fouls — PHS 17 (Russell fouled out), HHS 13.
Contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.