The Joseph Eagles had the Jordan Valley Mustangs corralled, fore-footed and saddled, 63-49, before they knew what hit them in the opening round of state 1A basketball playoffs on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at Quinn Court in Enterprise.
The Eagles drew first blood with a Hadley Miller foul shot and never looked back as the first quarter ended with the Eagles up, 11-3. The Mustangs never got closer than six points after the first quarter.
Joseph had problems finding the bucket at times, but tenacious defense, largely without the use of a press, hobbled the Mustangs, whose foul shot conversions accounted for a significant percentage of their score. No one from the Eagles fouled out, however.
The Mustangs had their fair share of fouls as well, with Eagles player, Hadley Miller spending more time at the line than a Safeway checker.
"The kids played hard and played great defense," coach Olan Fulfer said. "This is the most disciplined we have been.
Miller, said the game outcome was never in doubt with the players, due largely to defense.
"We talked before the game, and we were really going to bring it with our defense," Miller said. "We've been working on our defense for the last two weeks, and we played great defense, holding down their points while we were scoring points."
Miller also served as rebound king with eight, while defensive standout Reece Nelson aced seven and Murray flagged down six.
Fulfer noted that Miller played tough the entire game and that Murray continued to stay in attack mode as well. Mason Ferre' got kudos for his offensive play and getting the ball to other Eagles when it mattered while the coach noted graham Barber for the spark he provided off the bench.
Grahm Barber got the nod for outstanding play during the closing moments of the game.
After Murray and Miller, always reliable Ferre' delivered eight to the hoop and defense meister, Carson Littlpage mailed in seven. Several other players knocked in five.
The Eagles host South Wasco County at Quinn Court on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 4 p.m.
Fulfer said he's looking forward to that battle.
"We're excited, and prepping for who we're going to play next," he said. "We want to make it back to Baker (the site of the 1A Districts and the state tournament); that's our goal."