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Jansen Edmiston guards a shot by Darian Lindsey. (Photo/EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


PENDLETON — After blowing up the Bucks by nearly 40 points in their game in Hermiston 10 days ago, the middle match in a set of three this season, the Bulldogs knew better than to expect a similar showing on Friday in Pendleton.

But a 21-10 hole half way through the second quarter? Even that was a little surprising.

Hermiston narrowed the gap to 23-17 by halftime and drove its way to the basket for 33 second-half points in a 50-40 Columbia River Conference victory at Warberg Court to complete the sweep of its rival.

“We knew it’s their home so they’re going to be making shots that they normally don’t,” Hermiston’s Mckenzie Byrd said. “We needed to keep that in mind and keep our composure. We got a little rattled at first but I think we picked it up in the end.”


 
 
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Joel Boozer and Alex Ortiz go for a rebound. (Photo/EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


PENDLETON — The games of the Umatilla County rivalry series between Hermiston and Pendleton have featured some of the tightest contests of either teams’ schedules, games so close a single possession could have warped the outcome.

On Friday, the Bucks finally got one to swing their way.

The Pendleton boys held off Hermiston with a reliable string of free throws and dodged a pair of Bulldog 3-point attempts in the final 10 seconds to a avoid a season sweep. The Bucks’ 55-52 victory at Warberg Court wrapped the regular season for both squads and will likely keep Pendleton’s campaign alive — at least for now.

The Bucks (11-11, 5-4 CRC), ranked 23rd by the OSAA going into the game, had to avoid falling out of the top 24 to have any shot at the postseason. The 24 teams advance to the play-in round of the Class 5A state playoffs, but may get bumped by a league champion ranked below the line.


 
 
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Tyler Berger takes down a Pendleton wrestler. (Photo/EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


PORTLAND — A year after finishing second-runner up at the Class 5A wrestling state championships, Hermiston is looking like a program with vengeance in mind.

The 2013 Bulldogs have drilled dual opponents and trounced tournament fields on their way to their regional wrestling tournament this weekend at Portland’s Marshall High School. Along the way, the Dawgs have picked up steam and the kind of state-wide attention that has the school favored for not only a district championship — an accomplishment that’s become commonplace around Hermiston — but a state title.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — With the wrestling postseason looming, the Hermiston Bulldogs are starting to get the itch. Tournament time offers the opportunity for redemption, a chance to reclaim the top spot in the state and rule over Class 5A once again.

“I can barely focus on school, let alone anything else,” Hermiston’s Tyler Berger said. “I mean all my time, I’m going up in the wrestling room, constantly visualizing myself in the state finals match and getting that championship as a team again.


 
 
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Bulldog Jansen Edmiston dribbles. (Photo/Randy Thompson)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — Hermiston’s Heidi Walchli sunk her first free throw with a pleasing swish. Seconds later, she capped the trip to the line with another. As the Bulldogs’ senior trotted back to half court to transition to defense, a resounding message came from the Hermiston student section:

“It’s all over. It’s all over. It’s all over,” the boisterous crowd chanted.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — Hermiston 2, Pendleton 0.

The Bulldogs took the second of three installments in the Umatilla County rivalry series on Tuesday, a game very deserving of an overtime. But the Bulldogs wouldn’t allow a fifth period.

Guarding a three-point lead with 12.1 seconds left in the game, Hermiston clamped down on Pendleton’s full-court drive, forcing the Buckaroos’ best outside shooting threat, Quincy George, into a contested and hurried jumper from long range. The basketball caromed off the glass and the rim, a scoreboard in the background showing no time remaining.

The Dawgs had prevailed 49-46.


Hermiston's Ramon Contreras drives against Pendleton's Tommy Lane. (Photo/Cassie White)

 
 
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Hermiston's Ramon Contreras makes a layup. (Photo/EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — The Hermiston boys’ basketball team dug into the playbook of the gridiron Bulldogs and put the game in the hands of their two-sport star athlete at the end of a Columbia River Conference game with Hood River Valley on Friday.

Guarding a four-point lead, Hermiston went deep not once but twice in the final minute, long bombs that led to two Alex Ortiz layups. The Bulldogs gave themselves some space and would win by more than a touchdown, 57-48.

After Hood River Valley turned the ball over with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter, Hermiston coach Adam Strom called a timeout to draw up the right play for the ensuing in-bounds pass. He needed something that was low risk, but came with a decent amount upswing if executed well.

So it was that Jake Flyg pulled back his throwing arm like a quarterback and hit a streaking Ortiz in the key on the opposite end of the court. Ortiz launched into the air, snagging the ball out of harm’s way and away from the pursuing defender, and drove to the basket. His layup found hoop — even despite a hard foul from Eagle Luke Kopecky.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HILLSBORO — Behind three champions and nine placers overall, the Hermiston Bulldogs wrestling team distanced itself from all other programs at the 2013 Reser’s Tournament of Champions this weekend, taking first overall by a wide margin.

Hermiston finished with 221 points, nearly 80 ahead of Crook County in the team standings. Sweet Home was a close bronze placing.


 
 
PictureHermiston's Tyler Berger won the OWC last week. (Photo/Brenda Berger)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


A week after blowing through the Oregon Wrestling Classic field in Redmond, the Hermiston Bulldogs will join fellow Columbia River Conference institution Pendleton in Hillsboro today and Saturday for the midseason climax: The Reser’s Tournament of Champions.

“The Reser’s is one of the toughest in the state of Oregon, well probably the toughest because it’s all levels,” Hermiston assistant coach Rob Berger said. “It’s one of those tournaments we look at on paper as one you definitely want to win.”


 
 
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Hermiston's Lucas Wyant shoots a 3-pointer. (EO file photo)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


No team started the season with a distinct advantage over the others on the boys’ side of the Columbia River Conference, with defending champs Pendleton having graduated all five starters and seven players overall. The other three teams all had enough tricks to make things interesting, if not challenge the Bucks for the title.

The expectations were high for Hermiston (2-12) to rebound in coach Adam Strom’s second year at the helm, but the team’s preseason was anything but smooth. Hermiston went more than a month between wins while forging through a series of disciplinary suspensions that sent three key players to the sidelines for a chunk of the season while another was dismissed altogether.

Hermiston went 0-10 while senior forward Alex Ortiz was serving his 10-game suspension for behavior in conflict of the student athlete code of conduct. The adversity had coach Strom reevaluating his season expectations.