Joseph Eagles boys basketball squad got off to a promising start over the weekend going 1-1 over Prairie City and Crane, respectively.

The boys met Prairie City, the state’s top-ranked team, for a home opener on Nov. 30, and came up on the short end of a 55-52 score despite a 20-point performance from sophomore Mason Ferre.

Chase Murray and Tyler Homan racked up nine points each while Kade Killgore sank seven, six in the second half, something Coach Olan Fulfer said was a tremendous help down the stretch.

The coach also singled out senior TJ Grote for an outstanding performance that often slides under the point radar. 

“He’s our glue guy right now,” Fulfer said. “He makes the right pass every time, and his defense is awesome. We’re excited about the potential he has for us.”

Fulfer wasn’t upset by the loss. 

“Of course, we want to win every game,” he said, “but I think we learned a heck of a lot more with the tough loss we did take.” 

The Crane contest proved more of a lark for the Eagles as they easily defeated the Mustangs 54-32 in a match that saw 14 players take the floor for Joseph, including five freshmen.

Homan led the scoring with 12 points on the bucket while Ferre had 11. Trey Wandschneider had six points in what Fulfer called an energetic performance off the bench.

The coach also noted a robust performance from much-improved junior Hadley Miller. 

“The amount of growth he’s made from last year to this year is pretty amazing,” he said. “He works hard on offense, defense and rebounding. He had some big buckets for us.”

Overall, Fulfer thought the team put in a solid performance.

“I liked how the team responded,” Fulfer said. “They came together and played some really good games this weekend.”

The week left the boys with a 1-1 season record. The Eagles next play 3A division Umatilla Dec. 6.

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