"We suffered the agony of defeat," said WHS boys head coach Gerry McLain of his team's 52-38 loss to Jordan Valley on Friday in Old Oregon League basketball action - though on Saturday a little revenge was on tap with a 58-41 win over Cove.
McLain saw some good coming out of the loss Friday.
"It was a pretty good game, we came together better as a team," he observed.
Shooting didn't improve quite as well as team cohesiveness did.
"As had been our forte this year, we couldn't shoot the first half. We pulled to within two at two minutes to go, but we couldn't get the ball to go," McLain said. After that the Cougs had little choice but to foul as the clock ran down, with the inevitable result.
Jordan Valley's 6' 6" Pat Anderson found 16 points, though 12 came in the first half, before Geoff Long and Adam Evans effectively double-teamed him, McLain said. Junior Patrick Green led WHS in scoring with 10 points with sophomore Kaleb Oveson just behind with nine. The top scorer for the game was the Mustangs' Paul Elsner, who racked up 17 points from the shooting guard's spot.
"Off the bench we ran a full court man-to-man press," said McLain of the third-period rally which saw WHS outscore Jordan Valley 2-to-1. "Survis and Delatori sparked that comeback ... really pressing people. The pressure got to them."
"All in all, the second half was good basketball. We should have taken the lead, but a couple rimmed out, and then we had to start fouling."
Against Cove on Saturday a road-weary Cougar squad took a quarter to find it's game and then proceeded to take Cove down.
"We tried to press in the first period," McLain laughed. "The kids wanted a full court press on three hours of sleep from the night before. Took a quarter to wake them up - our defense was sluggish. Once we got the adrenaline flowing, they started playing good."
Wallowa, which has seemed to have a bullseye painted on its back of late, saw a disparity in appearances at the line, but the Leopards failed to capitalize on their 18 free throws as well as WHS did in its nine. "Cove missed a chance at the foul line," McLain asserted. "We were tired and standing around and it showed in the extra calls."
Offensively, "we shot well. It was one of our best shooting games. We went 25-for-58 from the field (and) we had more patience than we have had in the past," he noted.
Oveson led in points overall with 17, with Ryan Harshfield (14 pts) and Dustin Byers (11) also totaling in the double digits.
"Kaleb played a pretty good ball game. Byers played a good game, too. He'd been struggling a bit as a guard, but he stepped up and got his act together," McLain said.
Cove's best performance came from Tom VanNice, "who must be 6' 3" and about 250," McLain chuckled. "We didn't deny him the ball enough in the first half."
Wallowa, 3-1 in league play now, will visit North Powder on Friday, then head to Joseph on Saturday, with the boys tipping off at approximately 5:30 p.m.
In junior varsity play, the WHS boys beat Cove 57-22, and opened on a 11-0 run with three-pointers by Mitchell Shelton and a back-to-back pair by Kainoa Delatori in the first six minutes of the first quarter. In the second period, Brandon Mahon scored six straight points in reply to a Cove basket and Wallowa finished the second quarter out on another 11-0 run. In the second half, Cove and Wallowa traded baskets, with Wallowa outscoring Cove 14-9 and Dalton Weaver hitting a 3 point shot with just under a minute to play at the third quarter. By the end of the game all 10 Wallowa players had scored, which WHS boy's JV coach Warren Wilson noted was a first for this year. The WHS JV boys are in the plus column this season at 4-3.