By Jeremy McDonald
JEFFERSON, Ore.– The challenge was there naturally as East Linn Christian and Jefferson met Friday night in the Central Valley Conference battle.
Both are aggressive teams with the passion and fiery determination to win at all-cost.
It was evident as the Lions jumped out to a 17-3 lead only to see the Eagles soar back into the game moments later down 19-14 and 30-24 at the halftime break.
“We knew we were good and we knew they were good. We knew we had to come in here and battle, we know this is our league and we’re here to take it,” Jace Aguilar said.
Battle they did entering the second half, but just as they were beginning to hit a run in the third quarter. Tragedy struck at the 612 mark of the third quarter when Diego Aguilar fell to the court grabbing for his left ankle in pain.
Aguilar had 20 points at this point with Jefferson leading 36-29. Frustration was there as Aguilar had to be carried off the court and East Linn Christian pulled the game into a two-point, 36-34 deficit.
They, Jefferson, weren’t about to let their fallen guard and brother down on this night with the pressure mounting and the game on the line. So they did what they do best and stepped up. Jace Aguilar, Eli Stelly, Zach Wusstig, Cody Jurgens and the bench all stepped up and made sure they were going to win this game for Aguilar.
Rebuilding a double-digit lead up 45-34 and led 45-38 by the end of the third quarter..It was as if they had another gear deep within that just snapped into action that propelled them to the 68-51 victory. What would have been a major speed bump turned into something oddly positive for the remainder of the game.
“The whole goal of the game out there was to do it for him. It was pretty bad seeing your best friend get hurt like that. But that was our mindset, to win it for him,” Jace Aguilar said.
“It was huge. Our bench came in and contributed. Got rebounds and played defense, we stepped up afterwards,” adds Stelly. “We just got to continue the momentum from this game and bring it over to our next game. Tough games against Central Linn, Regis and everyone in our league.”
Jace Aguilar scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half. Stelly scored seven as Wusstig and Jurgens each contributed eight in the win.
The win pushes Jefferson to 13-2 on the year and 5-0 in CVC play with the squad on the road to Central Linn (Tuesday) and Regis (Friday) this upcoming week. The Rams are 5-1 in league play following their 65-52 win over the Cobras Friday night in Stayton.
Cole King had a game-high 24 points and Heath Nichol contributed another ten for the Eagles. East Linn Christian travels to Central Linn Saturday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald