On Saturday night in North Powder, the Joseph High boys' basketball team left an awful lot up to junior forward Devon Patton. He battled with Powder Valley sophomore Jordan Pratt for control of the frontcourt. He limited the 6-foot-6 behemoth with the long wingspan to just four points. That helped to keep the Eagles in contention against the Powder Valley Badgers, the first-place team in the Class 1A Old Oregon Conference.
While Patton, a 6-foot-4 post player, closed off one of Powder Valley's avenues, the multi-faceted Badgers simply took another route. They ran a high-octane, fast-paced game and emerged as 79-67 winners over visiting Joseph (10-11 overall, 4-4 in the conference).
Patton said that he was very familiar with Pratt's style. He said he had played against him at the junior varsity level and even before then. "The thing that worried me most was trying to rebound around him," he said. "Anytime a guard was going to shoot, I tried to be quick. I'd try to box him out, get some good positioning."
The problem was that Powder Valley was stocked full of other threats. Senior Justus Gray finished with a game-high 20 points. Senior Jake Weems had 17, and senior Bryson Allen was good for 16.
Joseph coach Larry Nall said that nobody can cover all of the grounds like the Badgers. "They're quick and they have some great shooters," he said. "They drive a lot so you'll get caught in a bind. You try to stop one guy, but that just opens the door for the other kids."
After the game, Nall said that Powder Valley was the legitimate top team in the conference.
"We tried to play them straight up," he said. "We stopped their big man, but we just couldn't do much when it came to their fast break."
Notes: On Friday night, Joseph whipped Cove, 87-58. Jesse Bird and Erik Steen tied for the team-high with 14 points, each ...The Eagles are back in action Friday night with a road trip to Wallowa.
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