In probably their most important basketball game of the season, the Joseph Eagles boys team came up short last Tuesday night, falling to the Grant Union Prospectors 60-53 in a one-game playoff at La Grande High School to determine the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in the district tournament. The Prospectors went on to defeat No. 2 seeded Nyssa in the district tournament to earn a berth at state in Pendleton, while Joseph had to play the talented Imbler Panthers, inarguably the best team in the Wapiti League. They failed in their upset bid Friday night and, like Nyssa, had their season cut short.
Joseph led 25-24 at halftime, but came out flat in the third quarter and gave up nine consecutive points to Grant Union before they were able to put the basketball in the net. They rallied to within three points in the final minutes, but were forced to foul in an attempt to get their hands back on to the basketball. The Prospectors made nine of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter, 14 of 18 overall, and steadfastly refused to allow JoHi to regain the lead.
Four nights earlier Joseph had upended Grant Union 78-75 with Dustin Gibbs pouring in a game high 27 points for the Eagles. Such was not the case Tuesday as Gibbs, playing on a sore knee injured in Saturday night's win at Union, was out of sync and could only tally four markers.
Joseph, following Friday night's loss to Imbler, ended the season with a 13-13 won/loss record.
JoHi's junior center Cole Lathrop led all scorers with 24 points, but had little help from his teammates. Eric Butterfield scored 12 points and no other Eagles were in double figures. The victorious Prospectors were paced offensively by Bo Thunell and Trevor Simmons who each contributed 16 points. Taylor Schmadeka added 10 points.
Score by Quarter:
Grant Union 13 11 16 20 - 60
Joseph 14 11 9 19 - 53
Grant Union: Thunell 4 8-9 16, Schmadeka 3 (1) 1-2 10, Simmons 6 4-5 16, Ellison 2 (1) 7, Kowing 4 1-2 9, Bartlett 1 0 2. Totals 20 (2) 14-18. 11 fouls.
Joseph: Otten 2 (1) 7, Hook 0 0 0, Patton 0 0 0, Layton 2 2-4 6, Gibbs 2 0 4, Butterfield 3 (2) 12, Lathrop 8 (1) 5-7 24. Totals 17 (4) 7-11. 19 fouls.