It’s a rebuilding year for the Joseph Eagles boys squad, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the team’s record. The Eagles sport a 3-1 record at this writing, it’s only loss to second-ranked Jordan Valley.
The school has 16 players on its squad with 12 dressing down for varsity. It’s a fluid number cautioned coach Olan Fulfer:
“My house is an open door,” he said. “Kids can lose it; kids can gain it. What I’m looking for is great attitudes, hustle, teamwork. Anything that helps chemistry –– that’s our big key.”
The Eagles lost most of last year’s starting lineup to graduation, along with two other key players. It also gained several freshman.
“I’m really proud of these 16 guys and how hard they’ve been working,” Fulfer said. “We’re working together to pick up the team. If someone does something wrong, I’ll be the one to get on them, not their teammates. I want them helping each other out. Not just on the court, but in the classroom and everything they can.”
Fulfer is holding the team to tough standards to keep the team focused on basketball. Players who indulge in alcohol, tobacco or drugs will find themselves off the team for the season. He said that kids make mistakes, but if they indulge while on the team, they’re letting the team down as well as the fans and school.
“I’ve seen that stuff destroy teams and families,” he said.
According to Fulfer, teamwork is the Eagles’ calling card this year and also the team’s strength. He also mentioned the team does need work on passing up good shots for great shots.
“We can always get a good shot, but what we’re looking for is to take the best shot possible,” he said.
Looking at the league this year, Fulfer said that everyone is tough although he pointed to Nixyaawii, Powder Valley and Wallowa as league juggernauts. He said he thought the Eagles had a good shot at making the playoffs and the team has set their sights on any of the top-three league spots to accomplish that goal.
The coach noted the has two under-the-radar players in Tucker VanWinkle and Jean Luc Palma. Both are seniors this year and the coach speculated that no one in the league had heard of them.
In the end, Fulfer said that fans can expect to see a positive team this season. He predicted players will have great attitudes, work together and have fun.
“If you watch NBA basketball, it’s not always the teams with the most dominant players that win. It’s the teams that work together best,” he said.