By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– For the first 10 minutes of the game, Stayton controlled the pace of the game with their height, feeding Kaleb Anundi early and often against Woodbutn as the Eagles opened a 22-11 lead on the Bulldogs in their 68-51 win Thursday.
Both teams had their primary weapons, but Stayton’s defense held Woodburn to 12 points with two minutes to go in the second quarter and 18 first half points.
For the Eagles, they had Ben Rash and Micah Jenkins on RJ Veliz. Holding the Bulldog senior guard and McDonald’s All-American nominee to nine points in the entire game.
“Our coach did a fantastic job coming up with a game plan covering everyone and we knew that they all could shoot. So we came up with a game plan for Woodburn that worked,” said Rash. “RJ is an awesome player, he does it all. He shoots it, he drives it. He’s hard to guard. Everything worked good for us.”
Jenkins added that they had the easier job, as Anundi and Riley Nichol both helped the Eagles win the rebounding battle and prevented Woodburn from creating second opportunities as they opened a 49-28 lead entering the third quarter.
“Yeah we got a great defense, but we got to give it to our bigs. Kaleb and Riley, they own the boards tonight and didn’t give them any second opportunities so that was great. Ben and I got the easy work and they got the boards and stopped them with rebounds,” said Jenkins.
Anundi finished with 26 points and Nichols added 16 points in the win.
But Woodburn started the fourth with back-to-back three’s as Trevor Karsseboom hit one of his three three-pointers with EJ Barajas hitting the third Bulldog three to get Woodburn to 49-37 two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Stayton answered, pushing their lead to 58-40 before the Bulldogs cut it to 58-47 2:25 left in the game, but Woodburn started the intentional fouling to try to get back in the game.
“You can’t start too late, you got to start from the get-go,” said Ryan Stebner, who had 18 points for Woodburn. “As soon as the tip, warm-ups, everything. We got to be prepared, we got to go out there and we got to be ready to win the game. So I think focusing up early next time is going to be a good sign, we can’t wait. We got to go and push.”
For Woodburn, they suffered two hard losses to Marshfield and Stayton back-to-back, but at 12-3 and a rematch with the Eagles at their place on Feburary 8, they are plenty of opportunities to rebound and learn from these last two games.
“I think we can use the adversity to motivate us. I think going in practice we got to have a chip on our shoulder and we got to prove that we are the best and that starts in practice,” said Stebner. “We got to show that and we got to prove that next game, that’s how we do it.”