HERMISTON — For the first two years of Maddy Juul’s Hermiston career, beating the Pendleton Buckaroos on the basketball court was a given, never a toss-up.
However, over Juul’s next two seasons the two programs effectively changed places in the league standing. The Buckaroos won back-to-back conference championships and won four of the last five games against the Bulldogs — including three straight dating back to last season — going into Tuesday’s regular-season finale between the two rivals.
That’s why it was such a rewarding feeling for Juul and the rest of Hermiston’s five seniors as the Bulldogs were able to end their skid to the Buckaroos with a 43-36 victory at The Dawg House.
“Oh it feels so good,” Juul said, grinning from ear-to-ear. “To go out on top is the best feeling ... We just went into this game knowing there was no way we were going to let Pendleton beat us three times, so that thought in the back of our heads the whole game allowed us to be determined all four quarters.”
Though the Bulldogs (11-13 overall, 7-2 Columbia River Conference) were winless against the Buckaroos (17-7, 8-1) this season, both previous games were winnable for the Dawgs as the outcomes weren’t decided until within the final minute. Tuesday’s game played out the same way for both sides, as the Bulldogs didn’t clinch the win until within the final 20 seconds.
Hermiston did, though, hold the lead for all but 20 seconds of the 32-minute affair. The Bulldogs jumped on the Buckaroos to start the game and controlled the pace for the entire first half and led 20-17 at halftime. In the third quarter, Pendleton grabbed its only lead of the game at the 6:20 mark on a lay-in from Kalan McGlothan for a 23-22 advantage, but Hermiston answered right back with a lay-in from Madison Wilson 20 seconds later for the lead.
The Bulldogs used that momentum swing back in their favor and went on a 10-0 run to take a nine-point lead late in the third quarter
“That was definitely a key for us,” said Juul.
Hermiston coach Juan Rodriguez agreed with Juul, adding “it kind of showed the resilience that we’ve picked up throughout the season. My girls have had a tough year, starting with a preseason schedule that was probably second-to-none in 5A, and I was proud of the way they responded.”
Jazlyn Romero led the Bulldogs with 16 points and senior Hannah Thompson added 11 points. The Bulldogs shot 13-of-50 (26 percent) for the game and were 14-of-29 from the free throw line.
Even as the Bulldogs controlled the game, the Buckaroos had plenty of chances to steal the victory. However, it came down to Pendleton not being able to finish at the basket. The Buckaroos shot 26 percent from the floor (14-of-54), 1-of-13 from 3-point range and 7-of-5 from the free throw line — including a meager 2-of-7 in the fourth quarter.
Pendleton got the deficit down to one point at 37-36 with 31.1 seconds left to play, but Maureen Davies missed the front end of a one-and-one at the free throw line and Hermiston sealed the win.
“We cut the lead to one in the last minute, and we tried to get some stuff going,” Pendleton coach Kevin Porter said, “we just didn’t make the shots. We didn’t make a few foul shots coming down the stretch, too, and they (Hermiston) made all of theirs.
“You got to give them credit. That game was a coin flip, just like the other two were, and this time they made more out of their last few possessions than we were able to tonight.”
Kalan McGlothan and Jaiden Lemberger each had a team-high 11 points for the Buckaroos, with McGlothan adding 12 rebounds as well. Davies had seven points and 12 rebounds.
BULLDOG SENIORS SAY GOODBYE: With Tuesday being the final home game of the season, Hermiston’s five seniors were recognized prior to the start of the game. The five girls — Juul, Thompson, Regan Meyers, Alyssa Green and Hannah Earl — have been playing together since they were in fifth grade, and have given a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to the Bulldogs program in the last four years.
After the game, Rodriguez couldn’t say enough about the quality of the five seniors.
“I have five seniors that have been together since fifth grade. Some of them don’t get a lot of playing time, Hannah (Thompson) and Maddy (Juul) get the most, but the other girls are great teammates and when they do come in they do their job and there’s nothing more that I can ask.
“Alyssa didn’t get in tonight, but man, she was loud on the bench cheering. Regan gave me good minutes when Jordan (Thomas) was in foul trouble, and I could go on ... I’m just so happy we can send those seniors off with a win in our last game in the CRC.”
PHS 7 10 10 9 — 36
HHS 12 8 12 11 — 43
PENDLETON — K. McGlothan 11, J. Lemberger 11, M. Davies 7, K. Bradt 4, J. Wilson 3, H. Porter, R. Gentner, S. Spriet.
HERMISTON — J. Romero 16, H. Thompson 11, J. Thomas 6, S. Stefani 4, M. Juul 3, M. Wilson 3.
3-pointers — PHS 0, HHS 3. Free throws — PHS 7-15, HHS 14-29. Fouls — PHS 20, HHS 14 (Fouled out — J. Thomas).
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