HERMISTON - The Hermiston boys basketball team opened on a 15-0 run on their way to a 90-54 blowout win over Hood River Valley Monday in the HHS?Holiday Hoops Classic.
The Bulldogs (5-2)?didn't allow an Eagle basket until six minutes had ticked off the clock and took a 22-6 lead into the second quarter.
"Our main focus was to put on a defensive clinic,"?said Hermiston junior Joey Burns, who led the game with 23 points.
The Bulldogs seemed to do just that but coach Larry Usher still saw plenty of room for improvement.
"We still had quite a few defensive lapses in the ball game,"?he said, pointing out Hood River's 13-point third quarter.
But the Bulldogs scored enough points at the free throw line to make up for any mistakes on the defensive end, hitting 30 of 38 foul shots with Burns going 13 of 15.
Burns said each Bulldog shoots about 50 free throws in practice and the punishment for missed shots is laps so there is plenty of incentive to perfect the shot.
Hermiston also used their physical brand of defense to get inside the Eagles' heads.
"I think at times they were a little unhappy with how physical we wanted to play on the defensive end of the floor,"?Usher said. "We had to self-check at times and make sure we weren't being too rough but we want to play physical and try to rattle kids."
The Eagles (0-8) tried to fight back but, except for a few brief stints, did not have much luck.
"It got rough. A team like that, they try to get under your skin. They'll do anything they can to get back in the game,"?said Burns of their future conference opponent. "It will be interesting next year."
Austin Boedigheimer added 18 points for the Bulldogs, Kurt Simmons put in 16 and Alex Boedigheimer did not play to rest a sore ankle for conference games.
Hermiston will play Lewiston tonight at 8 p.m. in Hermiston in a rematch of 67-60 Bulldog loss Dec. 5 in Lewiston.
"Playing up there, they left a bad taste in our mouth,"?Burns said.