The Joseph High School Eagles neared the end of their seemingly endless streak of away games at both Echo and Wallowa Jan. 5-6.
The girls stayed on the winning path with two victories by scores of 46-43 and exactly doubling Wallowa’s 37 points with 74 points.
The Echo game did not prove an easy win for the girls. Coach Lance Homan said his team generally struggles in Echo although he gave the Cougars credit for a well-played game, particularly down the stretch. He noted the Eagles were less than successful from the free-throw line as well.
“We struggled to make shots and didn’t finish the game like we should have,” Homan said. “We will learn a lot from this close victory. I’m really proud of how the girls handled themselves and won a game in which we struggled to execute.”
Senior Alexis Sykora led the Eagles with 22 points followed by Sabrina Albee with 12. Emma Hite made an eight-point contribution toward the win.
The Eagles were nearly flawless at Wallowa, as the Cougars suffered the brunt of one of the Joseph team’s best games of the season. Homan said the team displayed poise and did well shooting from the floor. Four ladies scored in double figures for Joseph.
“Our girls came out with a lot of energy and really played well, and I’m really proud of all of our girls,” he said. He added that Wallowa played hard and continued to get better.
Sykora again led the scoring, putting up 23 points Madelyn Nelson hooked up for 16 points while Albee was close on her heels with 15. Hite also garnered 10 points for the Eagles.
The win put the ladies at 3-1 in Old Oregon League play and 9-2 overall. The Eagles are ranked eighth in the state.
The boys did not fare well against Echo, succumbing 53-49. Coach Olan Fulfer said that the “Mr. Hyde” version of the Eagles showed up for the contest.
“We didn’t even get off the bus at Echo, and all the kids agree,” Fulfer said. “It was an eye opener, which is good.”
No one scored exceptionally high in the game. Tyler Homan and Chase Murray led with 11 points each. Caevan Murray contributed nine in the Eagles effort.
Saturday’s game saw the “Dr. Jekyll” team show up at Wallowa. The Cougars’ gym became a virtual slaughterhouse as the Eagles pecked the eyes and the hide from the felines with a 64-24 annihilation.
“We didn’t want to beat them that bad, but we were hitting the shots,” Fulfer said. “I played the bench a ton, and they played really well.”
The coach said the team performed with remarkable efficiency both in choosing and making their shots and holding down turnovers to a bare minimum. Defensively the Eagles shone as well, holding the Cougars’ star Christopher Nobles to five points. Fulfer let his players take turns guarding Nobles, although a couple of the players got into foul trouble as a result.
Fulfer commended the play of Murray, who scored 22 points. The coach said he was even more impressed with Murray’s rebounds and defensive play.
“He got a really good challenge and played really well,” Fulfer said.
Fulfer said he was proud of the way his team performed. He added that the effort against Wallowa was the fulfillment of the way the team wanted to play. He also noted he was in a rebuilding year with only two players who had played consistent varsity ball last year, and if the team kept building itself up, it would make serious noise by the end of the season.
“We’re just trying to find consistency,” Fulfer said. “That’s what good teams are able to do.”
The weekend play saw the Eagles league record at 2-2, 6-4 overall