Cesar Ortiz has struggled shooting the deep ball the past few games, but Tuesday night the Hermiston senior was back on target.
Ortiz scored a game-high 25 points, including five 3-pointers, as the Bulldogs posted a 71-57 Mid-Columbia Conference victory over Walla Walla at the Dawg House.
“He did a good job of picking his shots,” said Hermiston coach Casey Arstein, whose team ended a two-game skid. “He was passing the ball, but when he was open guys found him and he knocked down his shots. Everyone is going to have their night.”
The Bulldogs (9-3 overall, 5-3 MCC) are tied with Kamiakin for third in the MCC standings after the first half of the season. Richland is 8-0, while Chiawana is 6-2.
Hermiston jumped out to a 25-13 lead after the first quarter, getting eight points from Ortiz and six from Andrew James.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 37-24 at the half, then had a lull in the third quarter, getting outscored 18-13 as the Blue Devils (7-5, 4-4) pulled within 50-42.
“In the first half, we had energy,” Arstein said. “In the third, they made a run and got within one, but we stayed calm and executed. It took us a bit in the fourth to get going.”
With 5:37 to play in the game, Hermiston’s lead was 52-47, but a 19-10 burst to end the game sealed the win.
“I thought they played hard,” Arstein said of his team. “I was disappointed in our effort Saturday (a loss to Kamiakin), but not tonight.”
James added 15 points for the Bulldogs, including seven in the fourth quarter. Ryne Andreason, Jordan Ramirez and Adrian Mendez all chipped in nine points.
“Andrew was the X factor,” Arstein said. “He was attacking the rim and was very aggressive on both ends. He got in a little foul trouble, but it was because he was playing hard. He carried us when it came to moving the ball around.”
Taylor Hamada led the Blue Devils with 18 points, while Dylan Sullivan chipped in 17.
Hermiston will host Kennewick on Friday. The Bullodgs won the first matchup 72-64.
“We’re gonna see what they are going to throw at us,” Arstein said. “We have to get ready for them.”