Elks continue their winning ways in rivalry game

Elkton senior Kieryn Carnes (foreground) looks to pass out of the corner while Yoncalla’s Alison Van Loon (21) and Kaleigh Soto (12) play defense. PHOTO BY NICK SNYDER/COTTAGE GROVE SENTINEL

In the second Skyline League game of the season for each team, the result of Elkton and Yoncalla’s first girls’ basketball matchup of 2020 went a familiar way.

For the eleventh consecutive time since the 2013-14 season, the visiting Elks (9-2 overall, 2-0 Skyline) defeated the Eagles (9-3, 1-1) 50-35 on the evening of Sat., Jan. 4. Elkton was spurred on to victory by the confidence and intensity of an experienced roster, something an up-and-coming Yoncalla team is still working towards.

“I think our experience and strength and just our understanding of the game was a little better,” Elkton head coach Rob Parker said after the game. “But those [Yoncalla] girls always play hard. They’ll get there.”

The Elks were led by the senior trio of Aspyn Luzier, Kieryn Carnes and Sadie Olson. Luzier, a player whose long-range shots often evoke shouts of “Curry!” from her teammates — referencing the sharpshooting Golden State Warriors guard, Steph Curry — scored all of her 12 points on three-point shots while Carnes matched her point total to lead the team.

Olson, who is also a leader of the Elks’ volleyball team as well as the reigning 1A state discus champion, scored only four points but made her presence felt in other ways.

In a sport where skills like ballhandling, shooting and passing are keys to success, other more intangible attributes are often overlooked. Defense, focus, intensity and confidence are the things Olson brings to the table every night, but especially against the Eagles last Saturday.

“She’s one who truly [gives 100%] all the time,” Parker said. “She has one speed. Sometimes we have to tell her to slow down because she’s going too fast.”

The game remained close in the first half, the Elks taking a 21-14 advantage into the halftime locker room, but when the second half began, the experience of Elkton’s roster began to tip the balance.

“We played with them pretty well in the first half,” Eagles’ head coach Kim Beer said. “But they came out in the second half and stepped up that press on us. The pressure was maybe a little more than we’re ready for.”

Elkton won the third quarter 22-12 and never looked back, dominating the rebounding game and refusing to allow Yoncalla to find their rhythm.

“The seniors understand what’s going on, the way we do things,” Parker said. “And they can make that adjustment themselves. Kieryn and Sadie were kind of the catalysts to get that going.”

The Eagles were led by senior Kaleigh Soto who finished a well-rounded game with 12 points, four assists and five rebounds. In spite of another loss against a familiar opponent, the Yoncalla girls are a much-improved team and still have big goals for the season.

“Those [Yoncalla] girls always play hard. They’ll get there,” Parker said of the opposing team.

In the later boys’ game, the Eagles (8-5, 2-0) exacted some revenge on Elkton (2-10, 0-2) winning 53-35 behind the high-scoring trifecta of junior Jordan Aguilar (14 points), junior Bryan Allen (17 points) and his older brother, senior Elijah Allen (18 points). The elder Allen now has 40 points total in the Eagles’ last two contests. The Elks were led once again by an impressive performance from freshman Cash Boe who finished the game with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Yoncalla basketball next travels to Days Creek on Fri., Jan. 10 for their third league matchup of 2020. The Elkton boys and girls will split up this Friday with the boys playing at home against Umpqua Valley Christian (4-5, 1-1) and the girls traveling north for a tough matchup against fifth-ranked Country Christian (6-3, 2-0).

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