The lady Eagles put in some fine effort, but it wasn’t enough to push them to the top at the state 1A basketball tournament in Baker City on Feb. 28-March 2. The Eagles dominated their opponents in the opening rounds with convincing wins over Ione and Mohawk before crashing into St. Paul on Thursday, Feb. 28, losing a screamer, 42-37.
Although the ladies rebounded versus Days Valley with a convincing 58-41 win, Saturday, March 2, saw the ladies go down in flames versus Crane, 49-30.
The Eagles had plenty of opportunities versus St. Paul, the top-ranked team in the state but lost by five, 42-37. Coach Lance Homan said the ladies knew a win could put them in the championship game.
The stats tell the story of a team that couldn’t buy a bucket with the exception of senior point guard, Emma Hite, who carried the team with her 17 points, going 6-11 from the field and 4 for 4 from the free throw line while corraling five rebounds. No one who shot more than five times came even close to Hite’s contribution. Two key starters also fouled out.
The team’s shooting percentage dwelled at the 28 percent while the Buckaroos were at 50 percent. Also, St. Paul scored fifteen “second chance” points while the Eagles had none.
Still, the Eagles showed they had grit as they sprang back from a 12-point deficit in the third quarter to bring it to within two, at 37-35, with 3:27 remaining and 40-37 with 2:26 remaining until two turnovers and several missed shots put the game out of reach.
Sabrina Albee scored eight points while handing out five assists and Haley Miller scored six points.
“Our kids never gave up and they fought until the end.,” Coach Homan said. “I am extremely proud of how they left everything out on the floor; they had nothing to hang their head about. Losing is never easy, but it is easier to accept knowing there was nothing left to give.”
The following day saw Days Valley get shredded by the Eagles’ talons, 58-41, behind an amazing 31-point performance by Albee, 23 points in the first half. The Eagles outscored Days Creek in each quarter, so the outcome was never in doubt. The ladies improved their scoring with a 36 percent mark although once again, the defense gave away 16 “second chance” points.
Madelyn Nelson popped in 11 points and Albee served as leading rebounder with seven while Hite had four steals.
“I was proud of how our kids fought today,” Homan said. “I think Days Creek and us were struggling to get energy and keep it up, but our kids dug deep and were able to pull away. This allowed for us to get all 12 of our players playing time at the state basketball tournament, which is really exciting for them.”
Saturday, March 2, saw the Eagles end the season on a sour note, as they lost, 49-30 to Crane, a team they’d handily beaten earlier in the season. According to Homan, the ladies came out flat and with no energy, while Crane came out like they had something to prove and nothing to lose. One look at the stats tells the story.
The Eagles shot a dismal 18 percent from the floor with only Haley Miller bringing her shooting iron to the game as she scored 15 points while shooting 6 for 17 from the floor.
Albee was next with nine points, while leading the squad in boards, with six and steals, three. No one else had more than two points.
The defense allowed Crane double-digit points in second chance opportunities while the Eagles scored eight. At one point, the Mustangs led by 22 points in the final quarter. Crane led at the end of each quarter.
“I feel bad for our team that has come so far throughout the season to end this way,” Homan said. “This is definitely a loss that stings and will sting me for quite some time. Kudos to Crane however as they played very well.”
The Eagles notched a 26-5 season and tallied three victories in the state championships.