HERMISTON — The Hermiston girls know how to come together when it counts the most.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs trailed for two quarters before clinching a tie at the free-throw line at the end of the third. In the final eight minutes, they took advantage of two technical fouls and put together an eight-point run to escape the Richland Bombers 38-34 in Mid-Columbia Conference action at the Dawg House.
The Bulldogs had just clinched a last-second victory the previous night, which senior point guard Jazlyn Romero said gave them the confidence they needed to survive the Bombers on Saturday.
“Last night definitely helped us,” she said. “It was also neck and neck. We have confidence in each other. We’ve built a relationship where we can come together and help each other in situations like this. It’s difficult for us to get down on each other.”
Richland strung together a 5-1 run to give themselves a 30-26 lead in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, but Hernandez came back with a trey, and two free throws after the Bombers were whistled for the first of two technical fouls.
Romero went to the line to tie the score again before the Bulldogs took off on their game-sealing, eight-point streak.
Romero added two more points at the line in the run, which came after Richland was hit its second technical foul.
“They’re aggressive,” Romero said of Richland. “They’re very physical. They’re crafty. We just have to finish those baskets. We have to jump on them early. We have to finish them all the way through.”
By the end of the run, Hermiston led 38-32. Richland freshman guard Lexi Hay got a buzzer-beating layup, but the Dawgs had already gained too much distance.
“We like to keep things interesting, for sure,” Hermiston coach Maloree Moss said. “I like that we’re able to finish at the end. It’s super exciting. We definitely have some youth on our team. It’s the perfect time for us to keep going up. There are no steps back.”
The Bulldogs trailed 23-22 midway through the third quarter following a tie-breaking free throw from Richland sophomore forward Danica Lerch. Hermiston’s Mia Hernandez answered with a layup with 1:25 remaining for the Bulldogs’ first lead of the quarter at 24-23.
Richland’s Megan Holm scored a basket to briefly reclaim the lead, but Bulldogs sophomore Bailey Young tied the score at 25-25 with a free throw in the final eight seconds.
The Bulldogs held an early 4-2 lead in the first quarter before a six-point Bombers’ streak kept things out of reach for the remainder of the half.
Young and sophomore point guard Sydney Seavert combined for four unanswered points to open quarter two, but Richland was quick to take over again with a six-point run in response that kept them ahead going into the half.
“Our shooting just was not working for us,” Moss said, “and we had to lock down defensively a little more. That’s what it came down to, ultimately.”
Young led Hermiston (11-7, 8-6 MCC) with a career-high 14 points. Romero, Hernandez, and Dowdy followed with six points each. Smith had a game-high 11 points for the Bombers (8-11, 7-8 MCC).
The Bulldogs will play at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Kamiakin.