Josh Hair was at a loss for words Tuesday night.
Redmond High had been in a funk, losing four straight heading into its Intermountain Conference game at Bend High, which had defeated the Panthers 13 times in their past 14 meetings. Going into the matchup, IMC opponents had been pouring it on Redmond this season, averaging more than 67 points per game.
The Panthers, Hair said, were desperate. They needed this win.
And they got it.
In holding Class 5A No. 7-ranked Bend to a season-low 41 points, Redmond used a pesky defense to rally from a five-point halftime deficit for a 57-41 boys basketball win.
“Oh, man,” said Hair, a Redmond senior forward, still in awe of the victory. “We’ve been struggling mentally, and today, we just gunned it. We wanted to put everything we had into this game.”
After shooting just 29 percent from the floor, including a 19 percent clip in the second half, Bend (5-3 IMC, 13-6 overall) dropped to third place in the IMC standings, while Summit (6-2 IMC) jumped into a first-place tie with Mountain View (6-2) after defeating the Cougars at home on Tuesday.
“Redmond played some good defense,” said Lava Bears coach Scott Baker. “We missed some good shots, we couldn’t get it rolling. Attribute that to the effort Redmond put out today. They did a good job of executing their game plan, and we couldn’t find our groove tonight.”
Panthers coach Reagan Gilbertson said the team “tweaked” its defense heading into Tuesday’s tilt, opting to run a three-quarter-court press with an emphasis on ball denial. That change allowed Redmond to stay within striking distance in the first half before Hair and the Panthers took over after the break and raced away with the upset.
“We as a group went back to our core values and got it done,” Gilbertson said. “With how we practiced and how well I know these kids, it wasn’t a surprise at all.”
The Panthers (2-6, 8-12) jacked up 14 3-pointers in the first quarter, hitting just four, yet prevented Bend from pulling away. The Lava Bears used a 9-2 spurt in the second quarter to build a 26-19 advantage and led 26-21 at the half.
Then, Hair shouldered the load.
The 6-foot-5 forward accounted for 10 of Redmond’s first 12 points in the third quarter as part of a 14-2 Redmond run that resulted in a 35-28 Panthers lead. In the third quarter, Redmond connected on 6 of 10 shots and outscored Bend 17-3 to take a 38-29 advantage into the final period.
Redmond continued to roll in the fourth quarter, as Ethan Soto buried another 3-pointer, one of four he had in the game, to kick off a 9-0 Panthers run for their largest lead of the game at 47-31. Dylan Taylor and Soto combined for six made free throws down the stretch to secure the Redmond win.
The Panthers were 10-for-18 shooting in the second half, while Bend was just 6-for-31 over the final two quarters.
Brian Warinner paced the Bears with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Bryan Brown finished with 10 points, six boards and two blocks in a loss that Baker said Bend had “better learn” from.
“We’ve got to show up and play each and every game,” the Lava Bears coach said. “We can’t let one win or loss affect the next game.”
For the Panthers, Hair had 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Dylan Moss added 16 points and eight boards. Soto scored 14 points, and Taylor dished out six assists.
“We’ve lost a few in a row, so it feels good to win one. It’s that simple,” Gilbertson said. “These guys have been playing hard, and we’re that close to beating a Bend school, and we made it over the top tonight.
“They should celebrate, because they absolutely deserved it.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307,