The Eagles boys and girls basketball teams played three games this past week, winning two.
The matchups proved once again that the Powder Valley basketball teams holds some strange voodoo over the Eagles. Pound for pound, Joseph consistently has better, faster athletes who are better ball-handlers and have shooting skills than the Badgers, but still, the Eagles fell hard.
Despite some initial poor shooting by the Eagles in the Jan. 23 matchup with Wallowa, the Eagles managed to catch fire and declaw the Cougars, 60-27.
Coach Lance Homan said he was proud of the way his team fought through a tough game. He also gave credit to Wallowa’s defense for playing hard and contesting shots. He also said he enjoyed playing at home in the middle of the week.
Senior Alexis Sykora led all comers with 19 points while Satori Albee and Madelyn Nelson each contributed 14 points to the mix. Homan singled out Nelson’s performance, saying that her hard work at shooting practice is yielding great results.
Friday’s game against the Badgers was a tossup from the get-go. Again, the Eagles had trouble getting the ball through the hoop but stayed in the game because of their grit, even though the Eagles trailed the Badgers for the entire contest.
In the fourth quarter, the Eagles crept up to the Badgers but the visitors held a three point lead, 45-42, with only a few seconds remaining. The game looked lost until freshman wunderkind Sabrina Albee sank a shot from outside the paint at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
The four-minute period was anti-climatic for the Eagles, who had burned up their energy reserves in the fourth quarter. The ladies tried hard and scored, but the energy wasn’t there. Albee led the scoring with 23 points while Sykora added 16. Nelson and Haley Miller had seven points each.
“The environment in the gym was amazing and our kids responded well to the pressure,” Homan said. “Powder is a very good team and a team that is playing really well. This was a great game to be a part of and I as much as anyone hates to lose, but I look forward to another matchup if it happens.”
Firecracker Albee had 23 points while Sykora scored 16 in the effort
The girls got their revenge on hapless Echo with a 56-27 brutalizing of the Cougars on the following night in a game that saw the bench get significant playing time. The girls were on fire most of the night, executing flawless basketball with very few bumps in the road.
“The girls really came out looking like they had something to prove,” Homan said. “I was proud of our girls and how they responded after a really hard fought game against Powder the night before.”
Albee scored 11 points in the first quarter alone although Sykora scored the bulk of points thereafter. Homan said the thought Sykora had no equal in the league at the post position. Sykora nailed 24 points.
The weekend left the girls in third place with an 8-3 record and 14-4 overall with a sixth-place state ranking.
The Joseph boys struggled against Wallowa, unable to find a rhythm or groove. Four minutes into the game, the Eagles had scored only once, and Wallowa held the lead until late in the second quarter.
Final score was 59-48.
Cougars standout Christopher Nobles did more than his share on offense and defense, scoring 14, eight of them free throws. He also blocked a number of shots and broke up numerous plays. The Eagles couldn’t get shots to fall and even free throw shooting proved a challenge at times.
The game was much closer than that with the Cougars going on a hot streak and pulling to within five in the fourth quarter before the Eagles boys took matters in hand and won going away.
Chase Murray led the scoring with 19 points while Caevan Murray added 14 points. Tyler Homan had eight points while Jean Luc Palma had seven in the bucket.
“We came out super flat, I think because we were looking forward to the weekend too much,” coach Olan Fulfer said. “The kid’s heads weren’t in the game at all.” Fulfer added it was a good game for the younger players because they learned they have to play through those kinds of games to keep growing. Fulfer also said that the Cougars had improved tremendously since the two teams met last.
When the boys took on Powder Valley, both teams looked sluggish, although Powder Valley jumped to an early lead because of their slightly superior shooting. The Eagles couldn’t find the bucket although part of that stemmed from the failure to bring the ball upcourt, which allowed the Badgers plenty of time to set their defense.
By the third quarter, the game stood at 21-13 for the Badgers and at times, the contest seemed to be which team could make the most errors, particularly in the turnovers department.
The buzzer brought a merciful end to the game with the Badgers coming out on top 44-35.
“We got wide-open looks at the basket, but we just couldn’t hit the shots,” Fulfer said.
Caevan Murray led the scoring with 11 while Tyler Homan and Chase Murray had six points each.
The Eagles brought an entirely new attitude to Saturday’s game against Echo, who had defeated the boys earlier in the season. On fire from the start, the Eagles led 12-8 after the first quarter and poured on the coal the rest of the night, leading 31-18 at the half and 47-27 starting the fourth quarter.
Guard Jean Luc Palma played stellar offense and defense with his “in-your-face-all-over-the-place” style of basketball. The final quarter saw a lot of playing time for the Eagles’ bench, which has more depth than any team in the league and held up their end with a final score of 56-39.
“We run hot and cold, Jekyll and Hyde, depends on the day,” Fulfer said. “Last time we played these guys we couldn’t do anything right. I’m hoping we can play that well consistently and be able to move on.”
Caevan Murray led the scoring with 23 points while Homan added seven and Palma and Chase Murray contributed six.
The weekend left the boys in third place in the district with a 7-4 record and 11-6 on the year for an 18th-place state ranking.