By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– The preseason wasn’t all too friendly for the Stayton Eagles this season, but it seemed as if all was forgotten as they took to the court against a traditionally strong Philomath program Tuesday evening at home to open Oregon West Conference play.
A matter of fact, Stayton opened the game on a 10-2 advantage and hovered around a 10-12 point lead for much of the remainder of the first half and entering the fourth quarter behind their senior wing in Jerry Daniels.
Daniels was rebounding as much as Kaleb Anundi was and helped lead the charge with energy him and the rest of the Eagle team were bringing to the court.
“We just really wanted to win and that’s it,” said Daniels on setting the pace early on in the game.
By halftime it was 26-16 with Daniels scoring 10 of his 12 points in the first half, and as mentioned prior, the lead remained in that around of 10 or so as they enter the fourth quarter.
That’s when the Warriors switched up their defensive look, more so about a minute or two-into the quarter than from the start to act as a true confusion tactic as Philomath hurried the guards into bad decisions and quickly transitioned that into points.
With a 1:40 left in the game, the Eagles lead was down to three when Daniels was called for charging as the Stayton offense began to adapt to the half-court trap defense the Warriors were throwing their way.
“All they did was pressure us,” said Daniels on Philomath’s defense. “But our guards adjusted and adjusted in time. With enough time to move the ball around and waste the clock.”
Jordan Butler had a crack at icing the win, but couldn’t connect on the front-end of an ‘One-and-one’ as the Warriors stormed down the court and cut the lead to two points, putting more pressure on the Eagles on their ball control coming back on offense to seal this win.
They did just that and Riley Nichol soon enough was fouled as the versatile post knocked down one-of-two free throws that turned out to be the icing on that cake that Stayton needed for their 48-45 victory over Philomath.
And the timeout prior to him making the first free throw did not bother the six-five junior as he helped his squad in starting off the league-season with a dub.
“Well calling the timeout, maybe in an attempt to ice me, didn’t really affect me as much as I thought it would” said Nichol, who finished with three points in the win on the free throw. “It was kind of fun to be in that moment, we shoot free throws every practice and I felt like I was prepare to win it.”
With rival Cascade up next, a Cougars team that has been battling that flu bug for a few days now, they got some momentum going into that game in hopes to continue their winning ways.
“Keep this momentum going, build off this win and just play our game and see what happens,” said Nichol.