Thursday, Nov. 14, saw the fledgling Joseph Eagles 6th grade, 7th grade and 8th grade basketball squads taking on the Cougar’s cub teams at the same levels. There were glimpses of future stars, and an a strong suggestion that the intense future upper valley-lower valley rivalry will continue into the future.
In the first game, the 6th graders showed off some good ball-handling skills and a lot of energy and enthusiasm, with Joseph flying away with a victory in the approximately 30-minute-long game.
The 7th grade squads, which included some 6th and some 8th graders on both teams, fought a mostly defensive battle, with Wallowa holding the upper hand at the end, 15 to 13. Wallowa’s #44 demonstrated his usual drive and intensity both guarding and scoring most layups. For Joseph, Hanley “Noodle” Miller hustled to the ball, and made shots from the outside as well as layups.
In the 8th grade game, the Eagles soared, winning by 29-12 in what loomed largely as a defensive battle. Wallowa’s #11 and #34, #40 and #24 worked especially hard at both ends of the court, but in the first half especially, could not find the rim, largely due to Joseph’s defensive efforts. Joseph’s Jaxon Grover, Jayden McNall, and Kane Johnson showed up to play, and, along with their teammates, tallied up the win.
Regardless of the scores, junior high ball is a classroom for basketball as much as a game. All the teams played with grit and determination. “It’s super-hard to pick any one player who stood out” said Joseph coach Jacob Micka. “In junior high ball, the kids learn a lot about the importance of teamwork. At this level, it all comes down to playing together.”