The Pendleton Lady Bucks basketball team jumped ahead 20-13 at halftime and needed every one of those baskets to stay there as the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter. Pendleton dodged a bullet when a pair of short Hood River Valley shots in the last five seconds both missed the mark and the Bucks crawled away with a 31-29 Columbia River Conference win Friday.
The Bucks (8-12, 3-6 CRC) had a chance to stretch their lead when Jory Spencer was sent to the free throw line with 13 seconds to play. She missed the first half of a one-and-one free throw opportunity that set up the Eagles’ final shots.
Hood River Valley (9-11, 2-7 CRC) had two looks at the basket but a pair of shots by Danae Burke each missed. The misses in the paint were the final touches on a 16-percent shooting night for the Eagles
Though they couldn’t add to their lead, the Bucks remained focused on defending it, Spencer said
“You can’t ever let defeat creep in on you,” Spencer said. “You have to be thinking, ‘I can do this.’”
The fourth quarter is a rough time to go cold, Pendleton coach Aaron Schmidt said, but the Bucks were helped by an equivalent dry spell by the Eagles. Hood River Valley missed 14 straight attempts in the second and fourth quarters.
Pendleton has had success against Hood River Valley, picking up all three of its conference victories against the Eagles. That’s why the late-game stumble was so painful to see, Schmidt said.
“It worries me only because it shouldn’t have been that close,” the coach said. “We made too many mistakes at the end, not being smart in the fourth-quarter situation.”
The Buckaroos have struggled to carry their success against Hood River Valley into games with other CRC opponent. The caliber of play on the other squads certainly is a factor, said senior Courtney Schumacher-Sweek, who had a game-high 15 points Friday. But a lot of the trouble comes from a lack of confidence.
“We know we’re good enough to at least play with those teams, but we just need to get (our confidence) built up enough,” she said.
Schumacher-Sweek had the big scoring performance on senior night while juniors Heehn — 10 points — and Rayne Spencer — 11 rebounds — also left an imprint.
Friday also marked the return of junior guard Brittany Gregerson from a left knee injury. Her time on the court was short lived, though, as she came out of the game early in the second period after trying to make a cut to her right with the ball. She hit the bench with obvious pain on her face and never returned.
Gregerson has a microfracture in her knee, coach Schmidt said, and wants to put off surgery until after the season.
Danae Burke led the Eagles with 10 rebounds and 9 points.