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.
“We’re a running team and we run a lot in practice,” said Chaz Madsen, Pendleton’s forward who scored 15 points. “We ran the court tonight.”
Pendleton was definitely in charge of the floor on Friday Hermiston coach Adam Strom said, but all their precision shots can thank Hermiston’s humbled offense for the favors.
“Our poor shot selection led to easy runouts for them and ours weren’t good shots,” Strom said. “When we do take good shots, rhythm shots, guys are ready to bounce out and transition better to defense.”
Not all of Pendleton’s baskets came on easy looks. Senior Buckaroo guard Davis made a pair of shots that would have won any game of HORSE, making a 3-pointer from just inside the half-court line to end the first quarter, and tossing up an off-balance prayer near the 3-point line to end the third quarter. The two baskets accounted for five of his 24 points on the night.
Even though the second buzzer-beater was worth fewer points, Davis said he was much more impressed with its accuracy.
“The second one was really a difficult shot but I’ve been shooting all week because I couldn’t really do anything else (in practice) so I felt really confident,” said Davis, who let out a roar to match the ferocity of his fist pump after the shot threaded the net.
Davis had been limited in practices because of a right knee strain he suffered a week ago and the pain rose to the surface at times on Friday. Late in the game, he reached down to stretch his lower leg with a grimace on his face — all while dribbling the ball at point. A glance at his game statistics paints the portrait of an injury-free player though. Davis finished with eight rebounds, six steals and five assists to go with his 24 points on 62.5 percent shooting.
Hermiston was led by Alex Ortiz’s 13 points, but those came on a 21 percent shooting night, a mirror image of the Bulldogs’ overall shooting woes.