The Pine Eagle Spartans made a Feb. 3 trip to Joseph and left winless. Although the boys gave the Eagles something to think about, the girls barely escaped with their lives.
The Joseph girls played their bench much of the game, but it had little effect on the massacre of the Spartans who, at the bottom end of a 67-28 score, were as badly beaten as their namesakes at the Battle of Leuctra.
“It was good,” said Coach Lance Homan. “Our defense is getting better and better. It’s fun to watch our defense evolve.”
Homan particularly noted the play of up-and-comer Madelyn Nelson who sank five shots from outside the paint, scoring 20 points total.
“She’s really been coming along at practice,” he said. It’s really good to see.” The coach added that point guard Sabrina Albee came on strong in the second half. He had nothing but praise for his team in general:
“They pass the ball around and share and cheer each other on,” he said. “They create turnovers and play hard. This is a fun group of girls to be around.”
Albee scored 16 for the Eagles while Alexis Sykora nailed 13 and Haley Miller knocked in 10.
The Eagles are third in the Old Oregon League with a 9-3 record and ranked fifth in the state.
The boys had no such easy time of it. Their game was touch and go from the very start although much of the Eagles’ issues stemmed from an ability to find the bucket and a lack of hustle getting upcourt on possession changes.
Senior Eagle Jean Luc Palma had no such issues. The best sixth man and pound-for-pound the best defensive player in the league was all over the court, causing numerous turnovers and scoring clutch points, particularly down the home stretch when the Eagles needed every resource they had to finally put the Spartans away, 51-46.
The Spartans were up by as much as seven in the second quarter, before the Eagles revved up the engines and managed to tie the score at 22 by the halftime mark. The Eagles were up by seven midway through the third quarter, but the Spartans doggedly fought, and with five minutes remaining in the contest, the Eagles were only up by two, 40-38, and the Spartans were up by one after a three-pointer and up by two a minute later, 44-42.
A three-pointer by Tyler Homan put the Eagles up for good. Palma forced two turnovers in the remaining time, giving the Eagles room to breathe while scoring points of his own.
Coach Olan Fulfer said the Eagles needed that type of game to stay sharp and not underestimate opponents.
“In the first quarter, we only shot seven percent from the floor,” he said. “It was bad. It keeps happening, but we’re going to keep working and hope we peak at the right time going into District. We have to be ready for everybody’s best shot.”
Chase Murray led the charge with 13 points while Palma and Caevan Murray bagged 11 each. Homan contributed five to the Eagle effort.