Although she’s only a freshman, Muriel Hoisington is proving to be one of Pendleton’s premier players.
The visiting La Grande Tigers pushed past the Bucks and were well on their way to claiming Tuesday night’s nonleague contest. With Pendleton down 40-38 with 12 seconds left in the final quarter, Hoisington took to the free-throw line, and she knew it was up to her whether her team won or lost.
The 5-foot-8 point guard sank both free throws to send the game into overtime, and the Bucks went on to take the game 53-47.
“I just told myself, ‘You got this. You gotta do this. Your team needs this. Just shoot it like you’re at practice,’” Hoisington said of her game’s defining moment. “I had to motivate myself.”
Hoisington posted 10 points, six rebounds, and six assists for the night, and sophomore Natalie Neveau led the Bucks with 16 points.
“We came out really well today and maintained it through the first quarter,” said coach Kevin Porter. “I’d love to think we’re going to come in here and blow teams out every game, but sometimes, real basketball happens.”
The Bucks ran out to a 17-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, but La Grande came to life in the second. Tigers sophomore guard Camryn Collman rang off 14 points for the quarter, including a trio of 3-pointers, to steal the game away. It was thanks to Pendleton junior Sami Spriet’s bucket at the buzzer that the score was tied 23-23 at the half.
“We came out strong, and were fast-breaking. We moved the floor,” Hoisington said of the first half. “But (La Grande is) a really aggressive team in the paint.”
Hoisington shot a point from the line to tie the game again at 26-26 in the third quarter, but Tigers junior guard Jacie Howton hit a 3-pointer to pull La Grande ahead for a while.
Collman dropped another trey in the fourth for a seven-point Tigers lead and a Bucks timeout.
Senior Katie Bradt knocked down two straight buckets after the break to come within three points of the Tigers, and Neveau hit one of her own with 1:13 left to play to trail by just two. Then, it was all up to Hoisington.
“I pulled her aside after her first shot and told her, ‘You were made for these moments,’” Porter said.
She then sent the game into overtime to a roaring crowd, and posted five more points to make sure her team stayed ahead down the stretch.
“She can get to the rim any time she wants, and she’s long on defense,” Porter said of Hoisington. “As the season progresses, she’s getting more comfortable in her role on the team. She’s like a quarterback — she calls out plays and reads defense. It’s a big responsibility for a freshman.”
Pendleton (6-10, 3-0 IMC) resumes Intermountain Conference play on Friday at Redmond.
Even with two key players missing from the starting lineup, the Pendleton boys pulled through on Tuesday night.
Although senior guard Cam Sandford was out with an injured ankle and Dakota Sams hurt his hamstrings, the Bucks took down La Grande on the road 67-49 in a nonleague matchup.
Pendleton held the Tigers to just five points in the first quarter, but La Grande made a 19-12 run to tie the game 24-24 at halftime. The Bucks regrouped and took care of the third quarter with a 24-9 domination to put the game away.
“We switched things up in the second half and played the best team defense we’ve had all year,” coach Zach Dong said.“That’s been our big push all season. I’m hoping that, knock on wood, this is a breakout moment for us.
Senior guard Tyler Newsom poured in a game-high 26 points to lead the way, and Kason Broncheau posted 14.
“Kason stepped up and filled in for Cam and Dakota,” Dong said. “He challenged (La Grande) and controlled their tempo. (Redmond O’Hanlon) had some big buckets for us, too, and Chauncey Sams had a great game defensively — he had a bunch of steals.”
The Bucks (11-5, 2-1 IMC) return home to face Redmond on Friday in Intermountain Conference action.