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Bickleton Pirates win league opener

BICKLETON - Sparked by a double-double from Eric Hess, the Bickleton boys basketball team cruised to a 58-36 home win last night over Yakama Tribal.

The contest was the Pirates' league opener and marked their second consecutive win on the young season.

Bickleton made its mark early, forging a 17-8 first quarter lead on the way to a dominating 34-13 advantage at the half. The Pirates' lead neared 30 points by the end of the third stanza as the home team led 49-21.

"The kids did a great job controlling the tempo, especially right off the bat," said Bickleton Coach Ben McBride.

Two keys that helped Bickleton pull off the dominating performance were confidence from an overtime win in its previous game and pounding the rock inside.

"We came out with a lot more aggressiveness in getting the ball inside to Eric (Hess)," McBride observed. "We wanted to push the ball inside first then kick it back outside."

The strategy was reflected in the game's statistics, as Hess led all scorers with 23 points and hauled down 11 rebounds.

Tyler Jensen nearly made it two double-doubles on the night for Bickleton with 12 points and eight rebounds to go with four assists. Teammate Tyler Collins also just missed a double-double as he tallied 10 points and collected nine boards.

As far as confidence from this past Tuesday's overtime win over Jubilee Christian, in which the Pirates went on an 11-0 scoring spree, McBride noted, "It always helps to carry momentum into league (play)." He added, "The kids were pretty excited about pulling it out."

McBride also praised his reserves for again coming off the bench and sustaining Bickleton's advantage.

"I've really been pleased with my bench guys the past two games," he said. "They're doing a great job."

In particular, McBride praised reserve Patrick Meador, "I've seen him grow tremendously over the past couple of games in handling the ball."

McBride also singled out reserves James Wilson, Junior Hernandez and Craig Osborne for their contributions off the bench.

Bickleton (1-0, 2-2) has now won two games in a row and on track for what McBride hopes is a different team than the Pirates have had in the past.

"We're focusing on how we're a different team than we were last year," he said. "We're trying to create a winning attitude."

The Pirates will have to work hard to sustain their momentum as their next game is not until Jan. 5, 2007 against Sunnyside Christian High School, three weeks from now.

"We know Sunnyside Christian is a tremendous team. We're hoping to give them a good contest," McBride noted.

He added that between now and Jan. 5, he hopes his squad will make the most of their practice time.

"We'll keep the competition going in practice," McBride said. "That's where you get better as a team, pushing yourself in practice."

McBride added that a large section of Bickleton's game schedule is during the month of January.

"We better take advantage of the practice time now because there will be little practice in January," he said.

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