By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– The offense was there Saturday night, there’s no question that the Stayton Eagle offense has been there since the tip-off of their first game of the season versus Central on December 1.
But, it’s slowing their opponents that seem to be the hiccup in the great breaker-board that is the master machine of the Eagles Boys Basketball team.
Tillamook jumped out on Stayton to take a double-digit lead on the Eagles only to see Stayton rally back to cut it to three following Riley Nichol’s three-pointer that made it a respectable 32-29 deficit late in the first half.
On the next defensive possession however, as the Cheesemakers missed a three-point attempt, the shooter was fouled and a miss with an opportunity to possible tie it on the next offensive possesion if the foul was not called.
The foul sparked Tillamook again as they built a 16 point lead during the second half only to have the Eagles storm back thanks to a 19-point second half by Kaleb Anundi, back-to-back baskets by Jerry Daniels to help spark the offense again as the Stayton defense picked up the pace as they did late in the first half.
“It feels good, like I know we can score on offense, but on defense is where we really need to improve because they put 74 points on us and that’s…we can’t let that happen,” said Anundi who had 31 points in the game Saturday. “We just got to box out on every play. We got to have five guys boxing out and getting the boards. Have a hand out on shooter, close-outs.”
The last three games were a testament to them needing to step up as a defensive unit as they prepare for one last game before the Capital City Classic on December 18.
“I think it’s making us stronger together and showing us that without defense, no matter how good our offense is, we can’t win games,” said Jordan Butler.
With Stayton within five with a little more than three minutes left in the game, Stayton turned a Cheesemaker turnover into a fastbreak opportunity to cut it to three only to have a little too much gas on the release point as the rebound put-back missed its mark as well with Tillamook slowing the game down and milking the clock and forced the Eagles to foul to get the ball back.
And with them sitting at 0-3 entering their road trip to Estacada Wednesday to play the Rangers following their 74-64 loss, Butler pointed to having a chip on their shoulders as they go out for practice Monday afternoon in preparation for Estacada and using that as a stepping stone for the Capital City Classic at Willamette University.
“Just working hard and just going out and getting a ‘W’,” said Butler, who had eight points in the loss Saturday. “Just working hard in practices and just having the chip on our shoulders when we go up to Estacada.”
Nichol finished with 12 points, Daniels had six. Ben Rash has three and Tony Shoenborn had two.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald