PENDLETON — Against Hood River Valley on Monday, the Eagles planned to minimize Pendleton center Bryan Beard’s impact by getting the big fella in foul trouble early. They wanted to drive the ball into the heart of his lane and make him play soft.
Beard was held to only five points in partial minutes.
The 6-foot-10 Buck learned from that outing and against the Eagles again on Friday, shattered that game plan like glass. Beard played like a basketball monster, scoring 14 points, grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking three shots as the Bucks outplayed Hood River Valley 77-38.
“It was definitely put in my head that I don’t need to be going after every block and I can still alter the shots without swinging for the block,” said Beard, who’s brick-wall presence in the middle helped the Bucks defense give up 22 less points than in Monday’s win against the Eagles.
“You can’t get around him. He’s so huge,” said the Eagles’ Ryan Wheat, who scored all of Hood River’s five points in the second quarter. “We tried to just keep going at him, but it wasn’t working (Friday).”
Wheat — no shrimp at 6-foot-3 — finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a few bruises from battling Beard all night.
Pendleton’s Lathan Alger also scored 15 points on the night, the most recent in a string of good games for the guard. Alger put up 19 on Hood River earlier this week.
The grace behind the curtain for Alger has been confidence and aggression, he said. He played a more passive style earlier in the year that revolved around dumping the ball off to teammates, but shooting has moved into the centerpiece
role of his game.
He shot 7-for-11 from the field on Friday.
It took Pendleton a few minutes to warm up against Hood River, going scoreless for the first three minutes, but the ball started to roll downhill from there. They led by as many as 44 in the game and Hood River was never on top save a 2-0 lead at the onset.
It was a nice change from Wednesday’s game against The Dalles Wahtonka when Pendleton trailed in the second half, a rare occurrence for the Bucks in Columbia River Conference play.
“It put us in a spot where we didn’t have to worry about the guys that didn’t have the most experience out there,” Alger said of the fleet of reserves that were handed a near 40-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Darius Polhamus scored another 14 points for the Bucks, adding eight assists.
Pendleton will play Hermiston on the road on Tuesday, with tip at 7 p.m.