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_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

A game of mostly pounding defenses came to a head in extra time between Stanfield and Irrigon at the Pendleton Convention Center. The Irrigon Knights held the Tigers scoreless in overtime — and barely managed to score themselves — as a single bucket from Cheyanne Hacket with 1:20 left provided all the scoring in a 34-32 Knights’ victory at the Bounc’n Cancer Classic on Saturday night

“I’m really glad we were able to work together and make up for not scoring more,” Hacket said about the team’s defense late in the game. No Irrigon player produced more than the seven points that came from Ashli Roberts.

The Knights (12-5, 5-3 Blue Mountain Conference) had their chances to grab a lead earlier in overtime, but missed all four free throw attempts, part of a 20 percent free-throw shooting day as a team.

_Irrigon's Sandra Vera (32) nabs a rebound in traffic during the Bounc'n Cancer Classic in Pendleton. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
 
 
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Echo's Jeramy Cisneros takes a shot. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

Elijah Bevis tossed a short layup toward the basket with a smile and a bouncing step. He didn’t care if the ball went in because the half-hearted shot was long after the final buzzer of Nixyaawii’s basketball game with Echo on Saturday night at the Pendleton Convention Center. That shot was for fun as the other players filed off the court — and without the pressure that surrounded his free throws moments earlier.

With Nixyaawii up 49-48, Bevis made a pair of free throws to put the game away with two seconds left on the clock and guarantee the Golden Eagles (9-11, 5-5 Big Sky Conference) a 51-48 victory in the final game of the Bounc’n Cancer Classic.

“Concentrated,” said Bevis to describe his mindset heading to the free throw line. “I just hoped I could make that free throw.”

 
 
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_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — With winter storms devastating the Columbia River Conference basketball schedules recently, the Pendleton Bucks knew they couldn’t afford a letdown whenever the ice and snow allowed them to return to the court. To stay game ready, they split the squad straight down the middle and played each other at practice this week.

“We put some situational stuff in there and played, just because we (coaches) are tired of practice for two weeks here in the middle of the season so we knew the kids must be too,” Pendleton boys’ basketball coach David Norton said.

Whether it was the scrimmaging or the dominant Deon Davis behind the wheel, the Buckaroos (12-4, 4-0 CRC) rode their hot shooting to a 70-48 victory over Hermiston on Friday in each team’s first game in two weeks.

_Pendleton's Bryan Beard pulls down a rebound guarded by Hermiston's Nolan Briscoe. (Photo by EJ Harris)
 
 
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_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

The Hermiston girls’ basketball team benefited from a herd of Pendleton turnovers — many self-inflicted wounds accompanying the forced ones — to run away with a 57-37 win Friday. The Bulldogs (11-5, 4-0 CRC) remain undefeated in the Columbia River Conference while Pendleton (5-10, 0-4 CRC) is still struggling to climb into the win column.

Hermiston backed the Bucks into a corner from the get-go with a 24-8 first-quarter romp. The Bulldogs forced their opponent into a basketball anomaly for most of the game: Pendleton had more turnovers lost than points scored until late in the fourth quarter. The Bucks finished in the black but still lost possession of the ball 32 times.

_Hermiston's Maloree Moss puts up a shot guarded by Pendleton’s Gregerson, Schumacher-Sweek and Spencer. (Photo by EJ Harris)
 
 
Abraham Rodriguez
Abraham Rodriguez (Photo by EJ Harris)
_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — Abraham Rodriguez is a 152-pound rabid dynamo of energy on the mat. The young man across from him — a wrestler by definition but an enemy by circumstances — must be taken out. Destroyed, even.

Rodriguez is fierce. He’s focused. He’s a breath away from just plain scary, said teammate Tyler Berger. 

“He’s the meanest wrestler I’ve ever been with. I mean he’s a nice guy off the mat, but when you get in the room with him...” Berger said, finishing his thought not with words but with wide eyes and a slow shake of the head.

“He’ll tear a guy’s arm off and come off the mat laughing.”

 
 
_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

Through two quarters, the Weston-McEwen TigerScots might as well have been playing basketball against themselves. At the half against Pilot Rock on Tuesday, the stat sheets were near mirror images.

Each had 27 points. Each had 19 rebounds. Even the shooting percentages matched at 35 percent.

But the TigerScots’ third quarter was far superior as they held Pilot Rock (14-2, 6-1 Blue Mountain Conference) to just five points and bounded to a 61-51 conference victory.

The difference in the second half played out under Pilot Rock’s hoop where Ron Terjeson ruled. The 6-foot-5 senior finished with 20 points and 12 boards, five on the offensive end.
 
 
_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PILOT ROCK — Ten days between games left the Pilot Rock girls’ basketball team sluggish and off-balance, at least initially. It took a few minutes, but the Rockets found their footing.

Weston-McEwen did not.

The Rockets (10-6, 6-1 Blue Mountain Conference) put together a strong third quarter and a crushing fourth on their way to a 58-39 victory over the TigerScots (10-7, 5-3 BMC) Tuesday in league play.

It took the Rockets nearly six minutes to land their first point, allowing Weston-McEwen to run out to an 8-0 lead, but from that point the game was all Rockets. It’s the same groove Pilot Rock has settled into over the last month in which they’ve gone 6-0 and rocketed to the top of the Blue Mountain standings.
 
 
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Riverside Pirates
_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

BOARDMAN — When Riverside and Burns got together on Jan. 14, a one-sided second quarter set the scene for a Pirates blowout. The win meant the Riverside boys’ basketball team moved into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Oregon League.

Two weeks will have passed by the time the squads suit up for Round 2 this Friday, and Riverside hasn’t played another game in that span.

Wacky weather forced the cancellation of two games for the Pirates (14-1, 2-0 EOL), who may come into this battle a little cold. Recreating live competition in practice is near impossible.

“Shooting wise, I imagine we’ll be a little out of kilter,” Riverside coach Clair Costello said.

 
 
_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — The Lady Timberwolves of Blue Mountain Community College were undersized and for most of the first half against Big Bend, also looked underwhelming.

That all changed in the final eight minutes before the half when a bolt of lighting struck the BMCC team and they turned a 24-17 deficit into a 41-29 lead at the break. Big Bend (13-4, 3-1 NWAACC-E) tried to close the gap but the climb back up the scoreboard was as slippery as the roads of Eastern Oregon and the T-Wolves (10-5, 2-2 NWAACC-E) held off the visitors for a final score of 82-67 in an NWAACC East Region game Friday.

“We’ve been working on not fluctuating in games because sometimes we only play one half,” said guard Chanel Cambronero, who finished with 19 points including four 3-pointers. “We were consistent (Friday).”
 
 
_By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — A round 100 points stared menacingly down from the visitors side of the scoreboard at Mosby Court on Friday. The Blue Mountain Community College men’s basketball team sulked toward its bench as the final few seconds mercifully left the game clock. It was a painful loss to endure — a 100-64 beating from Big Bend — in a so-far painful season for the Timberwolves (4-10, 0-4 NWAACC-E).

“After this one, it’s disappointment. A lot of us angry,” said sophomore Ryan Strand. “We just need to regroup, readjusted what we want to do. Do we want to throw the season away or do we want to get together without the coaches and re-establish everything back to basics.”

Big Bend (13-2, 3-1 NWAACC-E), the top team in the NWAACC’s East Region, brought the pressure early and often, flaunting athleticism at every turn. The Vikings soared through the air to snatch loose balls, grab rebounds, dunk baskets and generally make life miserable for anyone in a Timberwolves jersey.