The Eddyville Charter boys basketball team held a double-digit lead over its inter-county rival Siletz Valley.
But once the Warriors of Siletz got rolling and trimmed the first-half lead down to two on a buzzer beater by junior Anthony Simmons. The momentum carried over into the second half where the Eagles just couldn’t keep pace with the Warriors, falling 62-55.
It’s the Warrior’s fourth straight win over the Eagles — three of the four games have been decided by seven or fewer points.
“It’s been very competitive each time,” said Eddyville head coach Mike Ulstad. “But we are trying to get over the hump.”
Willie Worman, head coach for the Warriors believes that his team had underestimated the speed that the Eddyville players played with to jump out to an early double-digit lead.
“They could’ve easily gotten down and pouted,” Worman said. “But they fired themselves back up. We just had to remind them of who we are and what gameplan was.”
And that game plan was to play like the teams that Siletz hopes to face in the state playoffs — a fast, uptempo style of offense with an aggressive, physical brand of defense.
“That’s what I’ve trying to get the boys to play,” Worman said. “State-type basketball. You have to play those type of teams.”
It was the second half when the Warriors found that style of play. By limiting their own turnovers, Siletz pressured the Eagles into turnovers that resulted in easy baskets. Senior Randy Rilatos scored 14 points alone in the third quarter to lead the Warriors.
“He refused to lose,” Warman said. “He took the game into his own hands. He did everything you need from a senior. Everyone followed his lead.”
Eddyville, which entered the season with postseason and conference championship aspirations, has gotten a slow start to the season, losing four of its first six games. However, the Eagles aren’t at full strength, with two starters missing the past could game, young players Payton Rockmore and Carter Gassner have had to fill into more prominent roles.
With the absence of players, that has put more pressure on Eddyville’s two-start players, Isaac Kinion and Keagan Spikes who scored 38 of the teams’ 55 points. Despite the slow start, Eddyville isn’t expecting to see the overall talent that it saw in the non-league season.
“Tough tournament in a well,” Ulstad said. “All the teams were pretty polished, a lot bigger than us. We wanted to stack our schedule early. It’ll be a good experience for us. We are living and dying by the outside shot. We still have a long way to go. It’s going to take the other guys to give us some balance.”
While the Eagles are on a three-game slide, the Warriors won four of its last five games, including three straight. For a program that’s made the postseason every year since 2013, including winning the state title in 2011, Worman likes where his team is at this point of his first season as the head coach.
“They’ve responded to the things we are trying to teach,” Worman said. “I feel like we are right on target to where we want to be.”