If you happened to be one of the many who packed around Warberg Court on Tuesday, you learned something important during Pendleton's 58-44 victory over Hermiston: The Buckaroos don't have a single "Oh, my God"-type of player on their team.

You know the kind of people I'm referring to. I'm talking about the kind of folks that, at the first sign of adversity, throw their hands in the air, look around and say, "Oh my God. What are we going to do now?"

There were several times Tuesday evening the Bucks could have tossed out an "Oh my God," lost their poise and played themselves right out of an Intermountain Conference victory.

Pendleton surely had the opportunity to do as much when it opened the game and didn't hit a field goal until there was 3:42 remaining in the first quarter.

The Bucks definitely had the chance to do a little bit of hand-wringing in the second quarter when they converted on a single field goal attempt and went into the break tied at 21 with Hermiston, which came into the game as the clear underdogs.

It also could have turned into panic time in the third period when Hermiston's Mykael Bothum and Amanda Sivey hit back-to-back 3-pointers before Amanda Douglass cut the Bulldogs' deficit to 34-33 with a 12-foot jumper with 1:33 remaining.

It was a point when Pendleton could have played to the intensity of the massive crowd, discarded the game plan it had been struggling to execute and swing into the gym-rat style the game so obviously begged.

Instead, the Bucks closed out the third on a 5-0 run, and controlled the tempo of the game in the fourth to close out its 14-point victory over their cross-county rival.

It's not that the Pendleton players were born "Oh my Godless." With just two returning starters back from last season's team, the Bucks are still on a learning curve, but they're proving to be quick studies after playing some of the state's best teams during the Lake Oswego Tournament, which took place Dec. 27-30.

"The kids knew that they were getting good looks, and if they continued to play the game at their tempo, it'd turn around and they'd start shooting better," said Pendleton coach Todd Zimmermann, whose team was 4 of 23 from the floor in the first half. "I think that going down there, playing at that (Lake Oswego) tournament and playing teams at that level definitely helped us out.

"They knew that they had to execute and dig in during (Tuesday's) game. They saw teams do that against us at that tournament and they learned from what other teams did against us. That's exactly what our girls did (Tuesday)."

Indeed. Pendleton struggled for nearly three full quarters to run its up-tempo style of game. But it kept chipping away until it got things right in the fourth: putting the game out of reach while playing its brand of basketball.

"We were just trying to relax, knowing that we were playing on our home court," Pendleton guard Ashley Emerick said. "That (Lake Oswego) tournament brought us together more. We know we have to work together in order to get where we want to be."

It appears the Bucks learned plenty over the Christmas break in Lake Oswego. But in all practicality, Pendleton probably discovered more about itself after its game with Hermiston on a night when not much was going its way.

• • •

Alexis Humphrey's MRI on Monday showed that the Pendleton forward suffered an 80 percent tear of her ACL during Friday's victory over Redmond.

Because of the injury, the sophomore missed her first varsity rivalry game with Hermiston. While Humphrey sat on the bench and showed little emotion during Tuesday's matchup, after the game it was obvious she wanted nothing more than to take part in the game.

"There's no words to describe how I feel right now," Humphrey said as tears welled up in her eyes. "I just told the team to go out and get one for me. They did."

Humphrey will have to wait two weeks to see if her knee will require surgery.

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Sports editor Lance Ogden can be reached at 800-522-0255 (ext. 1-223) or by e-mail at lance@eastoregonian.com.

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