When there’s something you want, you have to go out and get it.
The Hermiston boys did just that Tuesday night, knocking off Kamiakin 67-64 in Mid-Columbia Conference action to keep pace with the Braves for the top seed to the regional tournament.
“Coming off two straight losses, it was senior night and we have been playing together for so many years,” Ryne Andreason said of the urgency to win. “This is the biggest win this season.”
Hermiston and Kamiakin both are 9-6 in conference play. The Bulldogs play at Walla Walla on Friday, while the Braves host Pasco. If both teams should win Friday, the top seed to regionals will be decided on RPI rankings.
“We are still battling for 1-2,” Hermiston coach Casey Arstein said. “Beating Walla Walla at their place will be tough. We will have our hands full Friday.”
The Bulldogs (13-6 overall) also had their hands full Tuesday with Kamiakin, who handed Hermiston a 67-51 loss the first time around.
Cole Smith, in his first start this season, scored 10 of his 13 points in the third quarter as the Bulldogs held a 50-47 lead going into the fourth.
“He can play,” Arstein said of Smith. “He picked his spots. He was very crafty.”
In the fourth, the Braves tied the scored quickly at 50-50, and the teams were tied at 58-all with less than 2 minutes to play.
Jordan Ramirez hit a big 3-pointer with 1:39 to play to give the Bulldogs a 61-58 lead.
“That 3 was huge,” said Ramirez, who finished with a career-high 19 points. “I told them I was feeling it. Andrew (James) drove it in, kicked it out, and bam. We had a good practice on Monday and the crowd got into it for us.”
Andreason, who scored 15 points, hit a bucket with 40 seconds left for a 63-58 lead, only to see Messiah Jones convert a three-point play at the other end to make it 63-61.
Andreason made two free throws with 23 seconds remaining, and two more with 13 seconds left to put the game out of reach, 67-61.
“I was a little nervous, but I was confident,” Andreason said of the free throws. “You have to block everything out — just you and the hoop.”
Trey Arland drained a 3-pointer from the left baseline with 6 seconds left, but the Braves ran out of time.
“It was a game of runs and mismatches,” said Arstein, whose team could not match the height of the Braves. “They are huge and we are small. We knew they were going to try and pound it inside. We handled the game well. We pushed the tempo. Eight guys played hard together and never gave up on plays. They stuck together.”
The Braves got 11 points from 6-foot-8 Kyson Rose in the first half, and the 6-6 Jones chipped in 19 points on the night as Kamiakin was able to get some easy baskets inside. Rose finished with 18 points.
Jones scored six of his points in the first quarter as the Braves led 20-15. Of Hermiston’s 15 points, 10 belonged to James, who finished the game with 12.
Ramirez had 10 of his points in the second quarter as the teams were tied at 35-35 at the half.
Steven Westermeyer hit two threes in the second quarter for Kamiakin and finished with 14 points.