In a battle of similar teams – similar win totals, similar close wins and big defeats on the season, similar hopes for their future with young players – it was Elkton (4-8) doing just enough to get a 40-39 victory over Yoncalla (5-8) on Friday night at home.
“Basically you had two teams trying to figure out how to win. It was kind of ugly on both sides and certainly there were plays that we would like to have back and I’m sure Yoncalla would say the same thing but yeah, I’m pleased with our kids,” said Elkton head coach Gary Trout.
The Elks were able to survive a pair of scoring droughts – a five minute scoreless stretch to start the second quarter and scoring two points, that came in the final minute, in the third quarter – as they came away with the win despite late turnovers and a six-point deficit to start the final quarter of play.
Yoncalla’s Corbin Eichman came up with a steal and three point play to tie the game at 36 with just over 1:30 to play in the fourth quarter. After an Elkton turnover just seconds later, the Eagles looked to hold the ball for the final 1:20 in order to get the last shot.
“Tactically I was trying to stall to hold the ball. And put the pressure on the defense and I wanted a drive to the basket. I wanted to get it down to about 10, five seconds and then drive to the basket,” said Yoncalla head coach Darwin Terry. “Players got a little antsy and… we turned the ball over into their hands and gave them an opportunity to score.”
Trout urged his team to play simple and smart throughout the game and in the final minute they did just that. It started with working the ball around and finding Spencer Moore down low for the go-ahead lay-up from the block with 23 seconds to play. On the ensuing Yoncalla possession, the Eagles were called for a travel with seven seconds left to play.
Looking to extend the game, Yoncalla fouled Elkton sophomore Trystn Woody who proceeded to knock down a pair of free throws to give the team a four point lead and the victory. Yoncalla’s Dominic Aguilar hit a three-pointer at the buzzer but it was too little, too late.
“We got some steals and forced some turnovers there at the end and Spencer hit that big bucket. Just doing what he was supposed to do and for us, sometimes that’s tough,” said Trout. Adding, “We tend to make things more difficult then they need to be and we start overthinking it instead of letting the offense flow and we start trying to make the perfect pass and then we just tighten up.” Woody led Elkton with 14 points and Austin Luzier added 10 for the home side.
Elijah Allen led Yoncalla in scoring with 10 points.
“Elkton, I thought, played great on their home court and came after it. But it was a good ball game. I don’t think we took advantage when we got up by I think six or seven there,” said Terry. “I think in the third or even the fourth quarter where they were kind of going to sleep there a little bit but I couldn’t get my guys to generate the energy to go attack the basket when we’re up.”
On Saturday the Eagles lost to Umpqua Valley Christian 56-42. The team played Days Creek on Tuesday Jan. 8 (after The Sentinel’s print deadline) and will play North Douglas on the road on Friday.
The Elks played UVC yesterday and have Days Creek at home on Friday and North Douglas home on Saturday.
“We’ll see where we take it from here. Obviously our schedule gets tougher. We’ll take a win however we can get it and hopefully we can build some confidence,” said Trout. “We’re seeing flashes of pretty good basketball, just the consistency is hurting us right now.”