After a hot start to the season, the Hermiston Bulldogs have cooled off.
Winners of seven on a row to open their first season in the Mid-Columbia Conference, the Bulldogs have dropped three conference games in a row, the latest being a 67-51 road loss Saturday to Kamiakin.
“I don’t think we were ready to play,” Hermiston coach Casey Arstein said. “I thought they didn’t play with any energy. I was disappointed in our attitude. It was an ugly game to coach and an ugly game to watch.”
Steven Westermeyer had 19 points, and Messiah Jones added 17 to lead the Braves, who improved to 4-3 in MCC play.
“We had good flow, shared the ball and played to our strengths,” Kamiakin coach Brian Meneely said. “We were able to make some outside shots and have balance in our offense. Trey (Arland) and Steve made some jumps shots that opened things up for us.”
The Bulldogs (8-3 overall, 4-3 MCC) were a bit undersized compared to the Braves, who averaged 6-foot-4 among their starting five, but they were able to match Kamiakin point for point in the first quarter.
Ryne Andreason scored seven of his team-high 19 points in the first as the teams were tied at 13.
Andreason poured in nine points in the second quarter, but the Bulldogs would trail 32-30 at the half as Jones and Westermeyer each had six points to pace the Braves.
“I thought (Andreason) was really good in the first half,” Meneely said. “We moved Messiah to him, and tweaked some things to make it harder on him. They are a really good team. Casey does a good job of getting them to play to their strengths. It will be a battle the next time we play.”
The Braves used two separate six-point runs in the third quarter, and got a big 3-pointer from Arland at the buzzer to take a 53-38 lead into the fourth quarter. Arland finished with 12 points.
The teams played an even game in the fourth, which left the Bulldogs short in the end.
“They are well-coached, very long and they did a good job of hitting their shots,” Arstein said of Kamiakin. “The guys knew their roles and they played unselfish. They didn’t care who scored.”
Cesar Ortiz added 11 points, and Jordan Ramirez 10 for the Bulldogs, who will host Walla Walla on Tuesday.
“We have dug ourselves a hole,” Arstein said. “We can either dig ourselves out or get buried.”