EUGENE - The match up between the Hermiston boys' basketball team and Corvallis was meant to be a high-octane dual between a pair of point guards that have the ability to take over a game.
The Spartans' Nadav Heyman - a senior guard who can shoot the lights out of the gym - took care of his end, propelling his team with 31 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
J.J. Ross for Hermiston, though, was missing in action for most of the first half, handcuffed with three fouls in the opening two frames. During that span, he played just six minutes of basketball.
His nine points on the game was a telling statistic regarding the Bulldogs severe offensive power outage, which turned the opening round game into a 72-47 route Wednesday afternoon.
While Ross not scoring has not been a deathblow for the versatile Hermiston team for the rest of the season, the Spartans also blanketed the team's leading scorer, Sam Grogan (12 points) and junior Cody Meeks (4).
"We knew they were going to come out and put all that pressure on us," Hermiston coach Larry Usher said. "Teams that have put that kind of pressure on us before didn't have the athletes that we did and our athleticism really nullified their pressure for most of the season. But (Corvallis) was just as athletic as we were and the pressure they used hurt us a little bit."
The Spartans' defense was everywhere in the first half, allowing just nine points in the opening frame, and forcing a normally stout offensive team into poor shot selection (38.6 percent from the field) and multiple turnovers.
Turnovers played a major factor, especially in the first half, as the Bulldogs committed an uncharacteristic 15 miscues. Off those, Corvallis scored 13 of its 30 points.
"We just didn't come out with any energy," Grogan said. "They're a good team. They forced a lot of turnovers and they finished on every opportunity they had. We didn't play with energy and we didn't play smart at all. We knew we had to do everything right to win, and we didn't do it."
Heyman was one of the chief pickpockets, finishing with a team-high five steals. And when he had the ball in his hands, no defender could stop him, as he drove by multiple Bulldogs into the paint for points. He followed a 14-point first half, with 17 in the second, going 6-of-8 from the field after the break.
"I don't know how you shut him down," Grogan said. "He's one of the best point guards in the state. You just have to try and contain him and we didn't do that. He took advantage of everything and scored all the time."
The Bulldogs came into the second half trying to chip away at a 10-point deficit, but had little luck in that endeavor.
Ross was able to get loose, scoring the team's first four points of the third quarter, but nothing the Bulldogs did could cool off Corvallis.
The Spartans rallied off a 9-2 run and expanded the lead to 19 by the end of the third quarter.
A lot of that Usher attributed to the experience factor. No player for the Bulldogs had reached the tournament in their tenure, and despite efforts by the coaching staff to "take the awe factor away" by getting to McArthur Court early, the Bulldogs showed their inexperience at the state tournament level.
"Experience hurt us too," Usher said. "Corvallis was in the semifinals last year, they know what it's like to be here and we don't. We don't have that playoff experience, that big game experience and we laid an egg, there's no other way to put it."
The real challenge for Hermiston comes today, as they have an early morning battle against Century.
Their opponent aside, the Bulldogs want to show the rest of the state that their regular season was not an aberration.
"Everyone's kind of down right now, but their kind of looking forward to playing tomorrow," Ross said. "We want to get some respect back. We want to prove to everyone that we belong here and that we are one of the best teams in the state of Oregon."
15 - 47
21 - 72
HERMISTON - Sam
Grogan 12, J.J. Ross 9, Cody Humphrey 7, Cody Meeks 4, Ricardo
Irwin 4, Bryce Baldock 3, Luis Ortiz 3, Johnny Kayembe 1, Dorian
Williams, Mitch Thompson
Nadav Heyman 31, Alex Hendrickson 11, Nick Eason 9, Camron Horrell 9,
Ben Olayinka 4, Ross Orman, Ty Callahan, Spencer Huddleston, Philip
Jonsrud, Kevin Younger,
3-point field goals -
Hermiston 1-11, Corvallis 7-10. Free
throws - Hermiston 12-24, Corvallis 15-21. Fouls - Hermiston
19, Corvallis 25. Foul
out - Cade Hearing (Corvallis). Technicals - Coach
Larry Usher (Hermiston).