A home win Friday for the Pendleton girls was a victory for more reasons than one.
When the Bucks charged past Hood River Valley 46-29, they opened their first season in the Intermountain Conference on a high note. It also ended a four-game skid, and got Pendleton’s full roster time on the court.
“We wanted to leave 1-0,” said coach Kevin Porter. “And at the same time, we’re trying to plan for the future. We got a lot of kids, including three from JV, some varsity exposure.”
Things didn’t exactly start off so strong, though; the ball went into the basket just four times in the first quarter — three times for Pendleton and once for Hood River.
“No one could hit anything,” Porter said. “We were right next to ‘slow start’ in the dictionary.”
The second quarter quickly heated up as the Bucks poured in 14 more points and left the Eagles scoreless for the first 4 1/2 minutes to stay up 20-8 at halftime. And it didn’t stop there — Pendleton would take a 20-point lead five times in the second half to cruise to their first IMC victory.
“Once the nerves and adrenaline wore off, we started knocking down shots,” Porter said.
Sophomore post Natalie Neveau revved things up for the Bucks in the second half with a traditional 3-point play for a 23-8 advantage, and grabbing an offensive rebound with 0:50 in the third quarter for one of Pendleton’s 20-point advantages.
Neveau posted 15 points to lead Pendleton, and also chipped in 15 rebounds — 10 offensive and five from the Eagles.
“Natalie is the Energizer Bunny,” Porter said. “She has a motor that never stops. She’s a 5-foot-6 post that plays like she’s 6-foot-6. She has a lot of energy and passion.”
A 3-pointer from Eagles senior guard Dani Valle would pull Hood River within 15 points of Pendleton in the final four minutes, and sophomore guard Morgan Baker hit 2 of 2 at the line with 0:03 seconds left to reduce that deficit to 13. But the Bucks had claimed the game too early on.
“Tonight really helped us gain our composure,” Neveau said. “We all started working together as a team, and everyone contributed. This will help us stay strong for the rest of the season.”
Pendleton (4-9, 1-0 IMC) hosts Baker in a nonleague contest on Tuesday.
It seems word of Tyler Newsom’s skills is spreading.
Although the 6-foot-4 guard scored a team-high 21 points, it wasn’t enough to save the Bucks from opening the Intermountain Conference with a 77-67 loss at Hood River Valley.
“People are starting to key on Tyler,” said coach Zach Dong. “They double- and triple-teamed him.”
Pendleton was ahead 38-28 at the half, but dropped the game in a crucial third quarter stumble, where the Eagles outscored them 29-14.
“We didn’t play our defense well, again,” Dong said of the third quarter. “We couldn’t keep anybody in front of us, so (Hood River) either got layups, or took to their open guys on the wing. They played really good.”
Dakota Sams followed Newsom in scoring, posting 16 points for the night.
Pendleton (8-5, 0-1 IMC) will travel to Baker for a nonleague game on Tuesday.