By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–The one thing that has plagued Stayton all year, reared its ugly head once more Saturday morning at the conclusion of the Capital City Classic Basketball Tournament at Willamette University.
A day after getting their second win of the season against Crook County, the Eagles roared back from a 12- point deficit to take a 38-36 lead during the third quarter following a Kaleb Anundi score against a traditional playoff team in 5A’s Springfield.
It was their second such lead of the game, once leading 13-12 early in the game; but their defense struggled in clamping down the Millers shifty and fast guards as Springfield jumped back out to a 46-41 by the end of the third quarter on a 10-2 run and used that momentum in the fourth to increase their lead to 57-45 with 1:45 left in the game.
“I mean it’s frustrating but it all starts with our defense because we can score on offense, but if we can’t lock down defensively, then we can’t win,” said Kaleb Anundi, who had a team-high 18 points in the loss Saturday Morning at Willamette University.33
Jordan Butler added another 13 points and Riley Nichol had 11 points respectively each as the Eagles wrapped up Capital City Classic play 1-3.
Of those three losses though, against Wilsonville (72-31), Corvallis (50-45) and Springfield, all three have been in the playoffs.
The Spartans of Corvallis were a playoff team last year and finished fifth two years ago. The Milers were at the Final Site in 2015 and 2016, finishing fourth in 2015 and were in the playoffs last year and the Wildcats of Wilsonville are Back-to-Back 5A State Champions looking for a three-peat.
Quality teams nonetheless even though Stayton ended up on the wrong result, it’s still good exposure down the road to see how they can tighten up their biggest weakness in their defense while improving on an already good offensive squad.
“I think it definitely helps us a lot, it shows that we can compete with those really good teams even though they’re 5A,” said Anundi. “But we just got to put the full game together and just lock down defensively.”
The Eagles will next suit up against Stayton-Scio Road opponent Scio (2-7) to start the SCTC Tournament, tip-off is at 730pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald