HERMISTON — Lewiston’s lead stood at four points, near its largest, with 1:40 left in the game. The score had held tight for the previous 30-minutes-plus, with Hermiston and Lewiston swapping leads 14 times.
But from that point on, all the bounces went the way of the Bulldogs.
Senior Maloree Moss provided the final lead change of the contest — a floater that rattled through the iron at the buzzer — as Hermiston knocked off the previously undefeated Lewiston (Idaho) Bengals 49-47 Friday night.
Moss’ heroics were set up by a pair of missed free throws by Lewiston (7-1) junior Karlee Wilson, who had been 2-for-2 from the line prior to that point. With eight seconds left, Wilson dinged her second charity shot off the rim and Bulldog Heidi Walchli nabbed the rebound.
Hermiston’s Maloree Moss passes while guarded by Lewiston’s Jennifer Hansen in the Bulldogs’ 49-47 win.
Walchli peered up court and hit a bolting Moss who corralled the ball near mid-court, took a handful of dribbles, and sent an off balance shot from just inside the lane. The basket accounted for the two biggest points of her 10 total for the game.
“Our game plan was just to get it in and go and that’s what we did — and I guess it worked,” said Moss with ecstatic laughter. “When (Wilson) missed the second one we were in a little bit of shock.”
Hermiston had tied the game just seconds before the missed free throws when senior Andrea Waters drained a corner 3-pointer with 14.3 seconds to play. Bulldog Jeni Hoffert then fouled a driving Wilson to set up the dramatics.
The last-second thriller was a landmark victory for Hermiston (4-2) and Moss personally, who had lost to the Bengals in each of her previous three seasons in a Bulldog uniform. Lewiston was coming off a state title run and was ranked tops in Idaho for Class 5A schools coming into the game.
This season’s explosive Bengal offense has revolved around 6-foot-1 guard Chelsea Waters, a player as dynamic under the basket as she is handling the ball. Waters was paired defensively with Hermiston’s Walchli for most of the game. Wanting to keep Waters out from under the basket, Walchli departed from her usual inside game to hit the edges of the court. She hit a pair of 3-pointers from there.
“We were trying to get a lot of passes going, drive and then kick out,” Walchli said. “I think that was the best we’ve ever passed in a game.”
“We just told Heidi, ‘Go sit in the corner because either (Waters) will guard you or she won’t, one way or the other, it’s going to work out for us,’ ” Hermiston coach Steve Hoffert said. “Either Maloree was going to get the layin or (Walchli) would get the kickout.”
Walchli was at the center of another crucial moment in the game. The eventual tie in the dwindling moments of the match could have possibly been a Hermiston lead had there not been a scorebook error for the Bulldogs that led to a technical foul.
Walchli was listed as No. 40 on the official lineup. She wears No. 42.
Lewiston’s Jennifer Hansen sank both free throws off the technical to start the second quarter — two free points that nearly cost Hermiston the game.
It was the first lineup gaff for coach Hoffert in his 26 years of coaching, he said.
“I thanked Maloree after the game for the shot,” Hoffert joked. “Things just happen sometimes.”
With the Bulldogs pass-heavy offensive attack, several starters were within a few points of the team lead. Andrea Waters finished with 14 points, but Moss and Walchli were right behind her with 10 each.
Lewiston’s Tisha Phillips had a game-high 17 points.