In a 32-minute game, a 90-second span can be the difference.
That was the case Saturday night for the Joseph boys basketball team when a late 5-0 run by South Wasco County led to a 49-45 loss in the first round of 1A state basketball tournament in Maupin.
"We came out really flat and we had to use a lot of energy to get back in the game," said JHS head coach Ron Lathrop. "I'm proud that after being down by so much the kids had a chance to win at the end."
Even though it was an elimination game for Joseph (20-6), the first half was played without a tremendous sense of urgency. SWC (22-2), using its press, jumped out to a 15-4 lead, but Jo-Hi settled down in the second half after trailing by as much as 18 points. The Eagles were able to pull ahead 45-44 with 1:15 left in the game when Tristan Patton found Joe Dawson in the lane for a layup.
On the ensuing play, Dawson fouled Ray Palmquist and put him on the foul line, where he converted one of two attempts and tied the score at 45-45.
JHS missed an 18-foot jump shot on its next possession and SWCHS took advantage.
Palmquist pulled down the rebound and quickly got the ball to guard Tyler Froemming. Froemming pushed the ball up the court and after moving the ball around the outside of the key, Nelson Hernandez broke free in the lane and nailed a mid-range jumper with 39 seconds left on the clock to give the Redsides a two-point advantage.
Following a Joseph timeout, the Eagles had difficulty getting to the basket and getting good ball movement and almost turned the ball over at the 18 second mark. After getting the ball back, junior guard Jessie Bird penetrated the South Wasco defense and got off a shot, but it bounced off of the back of the rim.
The Eagles were forced to foul with six seconds left on the clock, but it was only the sixth team foul so the Redsides took the ball out from the sideline. SWCHS was able to break Jo-Hi's press on its next possession and put an exclamation on the game with a Hernandez layup.
"We made a couple of critical mistakes at the end of the game and that was the difference," Lathrop said.
South Wasco jumped out to an early 9-2 lead in the first quarter due to tough defense, including three steals, while ultimately led to shots in the paint. The Redsides stymied Joseph's offense, which usually is high flying, and held the Eagles to two first-quarter field goals, both by Dawson.
In the second period, SWCHS slowed the game down by wasting a lot of clock time with side-to-side ball movement. JHS's offensive woes continued in the second and the Joseph didn't score its first points of the quarter until the 4:26 mark.
Jo-Hi remained in an offensive rut and with less than a minute to go in the half, the Redsides got steals from Stephen Kresse and Palmquist on consecutive plays and converted both into uncontested layups to give SWC a 27-12 lead at intermission.
With four minutes left in the third quarter Kresse went to the bench after he picked up his third foul, which gave Joseph the opportunity to attack the guard position and get back in the game. Lane Bailey started the Eagles' comeback by hitting a three-point shot with a hand in his face and then Jake VanderZanden followed Bailey's three with a layup as a result of a steal, which cut the deficit to 10 points, 32-23.
Several plays later VanderZanden got his second steal of the quarter, which led to another three-pointer by Bailey. In the final seconds of the quarter Dawson had an open shot which rimmed out, but Patton was waiting on the other side of the basket to grab the offensive rebound and get the putback.
Bailey, Dawson and Patton all converted steals to layups off of South Wasco turnovers in the final period, but their efforts fell short in the end.
"Anytime you play on someone else's home court you have to come out strong and be able to weather the storm," Lathrop said. "It was too bad it took a half of basketball to finally get going."
Dawson led the Eagles in the losing effort with 18 points, while Patton chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. Bailey finished with 10 points and four steals. Palmquist paced SWCHS with 17 points.