The Hermiston boys basketball team likes to keep its fans on the edge of their seats.
Friday night was no different as the Bulldogs trailed most of the game and needed a last-second shot by Ryne Andreason to slip past Kennewick 64-63 in Mid-Columbia Conference action at the Dawg House.
“I wouldn’t mind a game where we came out, established a lead and I could get some other guys in,” Hermiston coach Casey Arstein said. “A win is a win. You have to protect your house. This league is tough.”
The win gave the Bulldogs (10-3, 6-3 MCC) two wins over the Lions (7-6, 3-6) this season, which is key for seeding to the 3A regionals. Hermiston has one game left against Southridge and Kamiakin. Both are must wins if the Bulldogs hope to secure the top seed.
Hermiston trailed 51-50 heading into the fourth quarter, but a basket and two free throws by Andreason gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 58-55.
The Lions would come back to tie the score at 58-58, and led 63-60 on a 3-pointer by Blaine Chavez and a basket by Kobe Simmons-Dumo with 41 seconds remaining.
Andreason scored to pull his team within 63-62, and the Lions had a chance to extend their lead with 13 seconds left as Ayoni Benavides went to the free-throw line for a one-and-one opportunity.
Benavidez missed the front end, and the Bulldogs got the rebound.
With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Hermiston brought the ball down the court and passed the ball around. Anderson ended up with the ball, and he drove into the key.
He looked for an open teammate, but when he found no one open, he used an underhand scoop and put the ball in the basket with 1.6 seconds remaining.
The Lions were able to inbound the ball, but could not get off a shot.
“I got lucky,” said Andreason, who finished with 20 points. “These conference games, we have to make sure we win these ones. They punched us in the mouth the first two quarters and we beat them in the third. It was a good second half for us.”
With time running out, Arstein said there was no use calling a timeout to set up a play.
“He did a good job not throwing the ball away,” Arstein said of Andreason. “He is a very smart kid. These guys trust each other, and that goes a long way.”
Lions coach Bradyn Leyde gave credit to the Bulldogs.
“It definitely was coming down to who had the ball at the end,” he said. “Ryne Andreason is a good player and he hit a tough shot in traffic. Credit to him. This was a good high school basketball game.”
The Lions came out in the first quarter and took a 19-12 lead. Benavidez scored eight of his 13 points in the first, and Chavez added seven of his game-high 22.
Kennewick extended its lead to 26-15 in the second quarter before the Bulldogs staged a comeback.
Jordan Ramirez nailed a 3-pointer; Andrew James hit a pair of free throws; Cesar Ortiz added one free throw; and Ramirez stole the ball and laid it off the glass to pull the Bulldogs within 26-23.
“They got a lot of easy baskets, some you would like to have back,” Leyde said.
Chavez would hit a pair of 3s, and the teams traded baskets before the half as the Lions led 36-31.
“It was a rough start,” Arstein said. “We didn’t get any stops, we turned the ball over, and we weren’t hitting our shots. Kennewick did a good job not giving us open looks.”
Ramirez added 15 points for the Bulldogs, while Ortiz chipped in 11 and James eight.
“Jordan had energy in the second half and had some huge steals,” Arstein said. “He was the X factor tonight. Cole (Smith) kept us in the game finding the open man and playing good defense.”