Contributed photo/Beverly Nanez
The Dalles’ Jacob Hernandez drives to the basket to help his squad overtake St. Helens by a 70-67 margin Friday in a boys’ basketball game played at Kurtz Gym in The Dalles. Hernandez scored 10 points as one of four players to go over double figures.
As of Saturday, December 16, 2017
Faced with a size disadvantage against St. Helens, The Dalles Riverhawks used hustle and heart to settle the score.
Dakota Murr and Josh Nisbet combined for 45 points, and the No. 17-ranked Riverhawks added several clutch layups in crunch time and hit 6 of 9 fourth-quarter free throws to capture a 70-67 victory over the Lions Friday night at Kurtz Gym.
“They start 6-6 and 6-7 and we don’t. We don’t have anyone on our team within six inches of that, so I was really proud of our kids. They were able to defend in the post, and on top of that, we were able to score by attacking in the paint,” TD head coach Nathan Morris said. “We scored 22 two-point field goals against a team with two shot blockers in there, so it went pretty good for us because we were aggressive. We are proud of the way our kids stepped up tonight, both offensively and defensively.”
The score was deadlocked at 35-all at the half, and the Hawks created a little distance with a 15-12 spurt in the third period to jump ahead 50-47.
By the final period, The Dalles had swelled its lead to as much as 12 points; however, St. Helens stormed back to get to within three points.
When the Lions tried to pressure, the Hawks responded with length-of-the-court passes that turned into layups by Nisbet, Jacob Hernandez, Henry Lee and others.
Nisbet hit two shots and went 3 for 3 from the line, Murr tacked on two field goals and a free throw, Dalles Seufalemua chipped in a basket and two free throws, and both Hernandez and Lee followed up with a basket apiece.
“We were able to execute on our passes and nobody was guarding those guys, so we were able to score on them,” Morris said. “I thought we shot free throws well down the stretch. Maybe not as good as I would have liked, we went 6 of 9 in the fourth, but we hit some big ones, so we were able to close it out.”
Joe Rea scored a game-high 25 points, three in the fourth quarter; Jacob Falk had 17 points on six field goals and converted 5 of 14 from the line, 3 of 7 in the final quarter; and Drake Dow notched 16 points.
St. Helens (3-3 overall) ended up with 26 field goals, five 3-pointers, and shot 10 of 23 from the line, 4 of 11 in the first half.
Murr paced the Hawks with 23 points, Nisbet added 22 on nine field goals, one 3-pointer, and went 3 for 3 from the line, Seufalemua tallied 11, and Hernandez added 10 points.
All told, the Riverhawks dropped 28 field goals, six 3-pointers, and made 8 of 12 free throw attempts.
Since suffering back-to-back losses after a 2-0 start, the Riverhawks have picked up two straight home wins.
Playing in these pressure games is a good teaching tool, and Morris likes the way his group showed enough grit to scratch across a winning performance.
“We didn’t close out quite as well as I would have liked, but that’s kids learning how to win basketball games,” Morris said. “We haven’t had the opportunity to play with a close lead all that often, but when things got tight, they dug in and made the adjustments, capitalized on opportunities and limited the mistakes. But, we still need to get better mentally down the stretch.”
The Dalles (4-2) has an exhibition showcase against the Australian Basketball Travelers for three games, starting at 3:30 p.m. with the junior varsity and ending at 5 p.m. (girls) and 6:30 p.m. (boys).
After that, TD has a road matchup Tuesday in Milwaukie against the No. 10 Mustangs (2-2) at 7:15 p.m.