The Hermiston boys were enjoying a perfect season entering Friday’s Mid-Columbia Conference game at Hanford.
The Bulldogs were 7-0 and 4-0 in league play, but the Falcons possess the top scorer in the MCC, and Hermiston got a big dose of Connor Woodward.
Woodward scored a game-high 31 points as the Falcons knocked the Bulldogs from the unbeaten ranks with a 73-62 victory.
“Hanford punched us in the mouth,” Hermiston coach Casey Arstein said. “We didn’t play very well defensively. I thought Hanford did a good job picking their spots. We never made the real run you need.”
Woodward, who averages 25.5 points per game, had a season-high 45 points against Sunnyside two weeks ago. Friday, his point total included three 3’s, and an 11-of-12 performance from the free-throw line.
“Jordan (Ramirez) did a pretty good job on him until he got in foul trouble,” Arstein said. “But he is going to hit his shots. We are going to be fine. We just have to fix some stuff.”
The Falcons (4-5 overall, 2-3 MCC) led 18-11 after the first quarter, and led by as many as eight points in the second.
Trailing 30-23, Hermiston’s Cesar Ortiz drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Cole Smith followed with a basket to make it 30-28 with 1:47 left in the first half.
A bucket by Blake Davis made it 31-30 with 56 seconds left in the half, but Woodward sank a pair of free throws with no time on the clock to push the Falcon’s lead to 33-30.
A 23-12 run by Hanford in the third quarter put the Bulldogs in a hole they could not dig themselves out of. The Falcons scored the final 11 points of the quarter to take a 56-42 lead.
Hermiston had the upper hand in the fourth and pulled within 63-56 with a 3-pointer by Smith, but the game was too far out of hand.
“I told them we weren’t going to go 20-0,” Arstein said. “It’s time for us to get back to work. We’ve got our hands full with games coming up against Sunnyside (Saturday), and then Richland, Kamiakin and Walla Walla after Christmas.”
Ramirez led the Bulldogs with 13 points, while Ryne Andreason added 12 and Ortiz 11.
Dan Izquierdo was the only other Hanford player in double figures, chipping in 17 points.