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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.

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Pendleton's Logan Anderson lays up a shot. (EO file photo)
 “Going into the season, I thought we were at the forefront,” Strom said, adding that the Dawgs are still battling uphill. “As far as chemistry, all the teams in the league have 12, 13 games up on us right now.”

Ortiz, along with Jake Fly and Cole Schwirse who also missed time, are back but the team is still working on clicking. The Bulldogs beat Southridge (WA) last week 51-50 for their first win since the Inland Cellular Bengal Shootout, the road trip to Lewiston, Idaho, that resulted in those suspensions.

While Hermiston may be getting its engines started after chugging in the driveway for the past six weeks, Pendleton is still searching for any critical momentum of its own. The Bucks (5-7) have lost four of five since breaking for the holiday season.

The issues for Pendleton have come on the consistency front. The Bucks are a hot first-half team but their youth has been a burden at times this season. Early leads rarely last, per example, a 10-point first-half lead against Lincoln last week that eventually yielded a 21-point loss.

“We’ve got to find ways to finish basketball games,” Pendleton coach David Norton said. “We’ve been able to play with everyone we’ve played with, but not for the full game.”

The Columbia River Conference teams haven’t been striking fear in anyone yet this season. No team has a positive record on the year, with the Bucks’ 5-7 spot the best among the group. Pendleton sits at 23rd in the OSAA’s RPI rankings — also the highest in the league — but still well into the lower half of the 39-team Class 5A.

So who can rise to the challenge in these last nine conference games?

“Personally I still think, even though their record doesn't necessarily say it, it’s Hermiston now that Alex is back,” Norton said. “They’re going to be extremely solid. I think Hermiston and The Dalles will be tough.”

Both boys’ squads open at home tonight, Hermiston with The Dalles Wahtonka (5-9) and Pendleton with Hood River Valley (4-7). Those games are slated for 7 p.m. tip-offs.

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The CRC girls season opened under similar circumstances. Hermiston blew through the conference with an undefeated record last season, but graduated its core and returned only one starter in Heidi Walchli.

The Bulldogs (6-7) haven’t dominated in the preseason overall but have been hot lately. Following a 2-5 start, Hermiston has four wins —including three at the Nike Interstate Shootout in Lake Oswego — since Christmas.

Hermiston is starting to peak just as it hits conference play with its load of new starters working better together now than every before. The Dawgs’ battle tested schedule has them ranked up into the Top 10 by the OSAA despite the sub-.500 record.

Hermiston and Pendleton are tied for the last-place spot at the conclusion of the preseason with matching 6-7 records, but Pendleton’s losses have come against poorer competition. The Bucks rank 21st overall in Class 5A girls’ basketball, but have matched Hermiston’s positive pace in the past few weeks.

The Bucks entered that same Nike Interstate Shootout and emerged with three wins of their own to pull to 6-6 on the season and break a nasty five-game skid. But Pendleton has played only one game in January — a loss to La Grande on Jan. 2, and any steam it was building may have dissipated by now.

The pre-conference leader comes from The Dalles Wahtonka (10-3), where the Eagles Indians have worked their way into the Top 5 of the OSAA on the strength of an 8-1 start. The Dalles Wahtonka returned three all-conference starters from last season’s second-place run in the CRC in point guard Anndria North, forward Emily Bailey and post Olivia Starks.

It’ll be a clash of the top teams in The Dalles when the Bulldogs visit tonight at 7 p.m.

The Bucks and Hood River Valley (7-5) will face off in Hood River at the same time.

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Contact AJ Mazzolini at ajmazzolini@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0839.


 


Comments

05/06/2013 2:50am

The news and updates that you given in the blog regarding games are very useful for the team and game lovers. The above news is an example for that and thank you for sharing it to the world. From your blog it is known that, your passion towards basket ball.

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Existing schedule and already made ​​by many members of the league can not be canceled just like that. It will require a lot of confirmation beforehand to be able to do so.

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10/03/2013 5:03am

The schedule has been made ​​for the league should it run properly and filled with responsibility. The problem is usually there will be differences in the schedule of other players.

10/08/2013 4:50am

The players should be used to confirm the schedule given. Do not let the schedule that has been approved by a lot of other players failed to materialize.

10/10/2013 4:33pm

There are quite a lot of failures that occurred due to the game not in accordance with the schedule agreed upon in advance. The other players should know this from the manager

10/22/2013 9:34pm

I think making a league schedule is pretty tough job. There are many factors that could make the schedule fails and can not be witnessed by many spectators.

The process of making a good schedule is very difficult. Especially if it is associated with a large team. Everyone seemed to be really looking forward to that schedule.

When the game is in progress, then there are plenty of teams that could make a mistake. Spectators who had come there to be disappointed with it.

Every teams will set their best starter for every matches. And they will also do the training to keep increasing their skills.

07/01/2014 12:53am

There are many types of games are very interesting from a league. A league does have a very high rating for the audience.

07/05/2014 7:09am

A league can indeed make a lot of people pleasure. There are so many kinds of pleasure that you can give to the audience there.

I'm sure there are a lot of spectators who witnessed this league. It will be one of the matches were very full by the audience.

07/16/2014 2:52am

This schedule will be much sought after by everyone. There are many people who will take the time to see this match.

08/12/2013 5:31am

They can get promotion to a higher level if they are playing good. That's why they are playing hard to show their skills.

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They should keep training a new youngster for the next season. So they can keep having players for the team.

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09/10/2013 12:38am

Every team will do the best to win. So they should keep fighting too for their team.

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09/10/2013 6:58pm

Schedule that has been made ​​should indeed not be changed easily by individuals. There are many steps to alter this schedule as it relates to the team in a league.

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The information and the detail were just perfect. I think that your perspective is deep, its just well thought out and really fantastic to see someone who knows how to put these thoughts down so well. Great job on this.

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07/06/2013 5:03am

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Hectic schedule would be one thing that was found in a team that follows a league. So also there are many people who know that the league is something that is difficult.

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08/05/2013 3:08am

Thanks for posting this really cool photos. I am a great fan of NBA games. Thanks for providing a brief detail of the game. I think that game was very beautiful to watch. Please do post more news about the game.

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09/01/2013 12:10am

I'm new to this site, just browsing around

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11/01/2013 3:44am

A league schedule made ​​by those professionals will bring a lot of spectators. But this will not happen if done seriously.

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Reply
11/18/2013 1:09pm

I like the way you have presented the topic. Very elaborated and well defined.
I really enjoy visiting your blog.

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11/21/2013 12:38am

Actually league schedule has been determined from the beginning. This is very important because there are so many people who can not read a proper league schedule.

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There in a game and spend a lot of time there will be an enjoyable experience. Everyone was very happy with the match with a strong team.

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Looks like there are not many people who missed this match. There are so many teams that have a strong defense and a way to defeat an opponent.

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04/06/2014 8:29pm

It has been discussed in some parts. But I think they still keep posting about this topic.

Reply
05/24/2014 1:56am

This is a great article. It gave me a lot of useful information. thank you very much.

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