Hawks, following the 61-49 victory in Tuesday's game, say they can play even better

DAN BROOD - Horizon Christian senior Anthony Sprauer goes up high to take a shot during the Hawks' win over Portland Christian on Tuesday. TUALATIN — It looked to be an impressive victory for the Horizon Christian High School boys basketball team.

The Hawks seemed to have a solid defensive and rebounding performance. On offense, they had a strong attack both inside and outside as they ran to a 61-49 win over Portland Christian in a non-league game played at Horizon Christian High School.

But, here's the scary thing for the Hawks' future opponents — they think they can get even better.

"It was good," Horizon Christian senior wing Anthony Sprauer said of the team's performance in the victory. "But I thought we could have played a little better."

"We could have hustled a little harder," added Horizon senior guard Brady Egger. "I thought we played well on defense most of the time, but we could have done a little better."

With the loss, Portland Christian moved to 4-3 on the season. The Hawks upped their overall record to 4-3 with the victory.

DAN BROOD - Horizon Christian junior Travis Schiele looks to drive to the basket in the win over Portland Christian. "It's been going really well so far," the 6-foot-7 Sprauer said of Horizon Christian's start to the season.

"We had a little bit of a rough start," Egger said. "But we've come back from that and played well."

Portland Christian, in Tuesday's game, took a 13-10 lead when freshman Sakari Haynes scored on a steal and layup with 2 minutes and 50 seconds left to play in the first quarter.

But that just seemed to fire up Horizon Christian.

Sprauer scored on a follow-up shot and he added a pull-up 10-foot jumper to give the Hawks a 14-13 lead at the end of the opening period.

The Hawks carried their momentum into the second quarter. Horizon senior Nathan Murrell sank a 14-foot jumper to start the period. Sprauer then scored six points in a stretch covering 2:53, upping the Horizon Christian lead to 22-16 with 2:43 left in the first half.

Murrell and junior Kyle Free each sank a three-point basket, and junior Travis Schiele and Sprauer each went 2-for-2 from the foul line, all in the final 2:24 of the second quarter, giving the Hawks a 32-19 halftime advantage.

DAN BROOD - Horizon Christian senior Nathan Murrell takes a jump shot during Tuesday's game.Murrell and Free each sank three-pointers, coming off assists from Egger and junior guard Tucker Olson, in the first three minutes of the third quarter, upping the Horizon Christian lead to 38-23.

Sprauer had a steal and breakaway dunk, his second of the game, to make the score 43-28 with 13 seconds left in the period. Portland Christian, getting a buzzer-beating three-pointer by junior Malakai Munoz, cut the lead to 43-31 going into the fourth quarter.

The Hawks then put the game away at the foul line in the final stanza. They made 16 of 19 attempts from the stripe in the fourth quarter. Egger's two free throws, coming with 5:22 left to play, gave Horizon Christian its biggest lead of the game, at 49-31.

Sprauer converted a three-point play to give the Hawks a 61-45 lead with 40.2 seconds remaining, helping the Hawks wrap up the victory.

And, it's wins like this, against a quality opponent, that have Horizon Christian optimistic about the season.

DAN BROOD - Horizon Christian junir Teague Randall (left) looks to get past Portland Christian's Demorisean Pennington."We want to make to it to state," Sprauer said. "That's the first goal. I'm excited."

Sprauer, in the win over Portland Christian, scored a game-high 25 points. He went 6 for 13 from the field and 12 for 15 from the foul line, while also pulling down 16 rebounds.

Free sank three three-point baskets, and scored 13 points in the win. Murrell added 10 points, and Schiele had seven.

Horizon Christian, as a team, made 15 of 40 shots from the field and 24 of 31 free-throw attempts. The Hawks also outscored Portland Christian by a 37-27 margin.

Senior Demorisean Pennington led a balanced Portland Christian scoring attack with 12 points. Junior Brad Antal added 11 points for the Royals, and senior Lucas VanderPloeg scored seven.

Portland Christian, as a team, made 16 of 57 shots from the field and 11 of 19 free-throw attempts.

DAN BROOD - Horizon Christian junior Will Shelby looks to get to the basket during Tuesday's game.Horizon Christian will be back in action on Dec. 28, when it opens play at the Crusader Classic Holiday Tournament. The Hawks will open tourney play with a 1:30 p.m. game against Creswell at Livingstone Adventist Academy. The Hawks will continue tourney play Dec. 29 and Dec. 30 at Salem Academy High School.

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