Early in the second quarter against Yoncalla, New Hope Christian cut their deficit to six points. But instead of the game turning into a close contest, it was the Eagles (8-12, 3-6 Skyline) going on a 40-10 run from the middle of the second quarter to middle of the third quarter to defeat the Warriors (3-14, 1-7) 77-41 last Tuesday at home.
“I talked to the team about being more energetic with their feet and denying the basketball playing man to man defense. And then we decided to go to a zone and anticipate the passing lane on their ball reversals and look for the steals,” said Yoncalla head coach Darwin Terry. “I actually told them look for the steals, have some energy and that paid off as far as anticipation of steals and scoring a lot of points on transition.”
During their explosive scoring stretch, nine different Yoncalla players scored. The easy offense that resembled the team’s pregame lay-up line was generated by a full-court press that plagued the New Hope Christian guards and created turnover after turnover.
“I was not worried about the scoreboard, obviously I wanted the game to be under control. Getting up by that many points you want to start subbing in and out, slowing down things,” said Terry. “But the focus tonight was to execute, try to play clean basketball, reduce our turnovers and play every quarter. I told them, because we’ve had trouble, not playing a complete four quarters and I felt tonight we played a complete four quarters.”
To start the game, it was Yoncalla’s Trace Graham who found a scoring rhythm as he scored the team’s first 10 points of the game.
“Well, I had a smaller guy on me and I knew I could take him down in the post. I just kept calling for the ball and my point guards, thankful to them … they just got me the ball,” said Graham who finished with a team high 16 points.
A testament to the team’s balanced attack in this game, no one else on Yoncalla finished with double-figure scoring. Brody Best, Elijah Allen and Athoususs Gilbert – who scored all his points in the fourth quarter – each finished with nine points. New Hope Christian’s Thad Hamilton finished with 21 points.
In the final quarter of play, Yoncalla was able to put their JV players into the game.
“What was exciting about that was New Hope was still playing hard and our guys that got in the game that don’t get many minutes actually played with a lot of energy and a lot of positive attitudes towards it,” said Terry.
Friday night on the road against 16th ranked Riddle, the Eagles lost 72-50. Corban Eichman led Yoncalla with 12 points while Bryan Allen added 11.
Saturday at home the Eagles defeated Elkton 54-46. Elijah Allen had 16 points while Bryan Allen had 11. Trystn Woody had 12 points for the Elks.
The Eagles played Umpqua Valley Christian on Tuesday (after The Sentinel’s print deadline) and faces Days Creek on Friday and Glendale on Saturday.