“Shoot, Hustle, Win”: Basketball Home Opener

Camryn Anderson, , Reporter

From looking to avenge loss, game changing baskets and bitter team lessons, the basketball home opener was nothing less of memorable. On Friday, Nov. 16 the varsity teams hosted the Tulsa NOAH Jaguars.  The stands were full of students excited about the free game, and excited parents supporting the players.

The girls took the court first, hoping to avenge their loss against the Lady Jags last season.

“It was important to play as a team, and not turn the ball over; but if we did, get it back,” junior guard Karen Rivera said. 

Defense outmatched offense for the majority of the game, but the Lady Eagles still managed to accelerate up the court and take shots, hoping to pick up the pace.

The first half featured thorough press plays, speed and aggression when attacking. The team efforts kept the half close, but the Jaguars extended their lead in the second quarter and the half ended with an eight-point Jaguar lead with a score of 22-30.

During the second half, the crowd came alive and the Eagles’ offense picked up the pace, closing the gap to just four points before the start of the fourth quarter. The final quarter had the back-and-forth play of a tennis match, with both teams being aggressive on each side of the ball.

“My mind was just everywhere,” junior guard Makia Sullivan said. “I was just excited, and tense, and I was just focused on the game and ready for us to get going.” 

“On the sideline I just remember grabbing my teammates leg and just squeezing it as hard as I could, and I was like come on we got this we got this,” senior forward Andy Martinez said.

With just 35 seconds left, the team came together to push towards success.

With a 30 seconds left, freshman Kiawnnah LaDay aced a three-point shot bringing the game to a tie at 52 points each. 

With ten seconds to play, the Jaguars made a free throw to put themselves a point ahead. The Eagles took a time out, preparing for one final play.

With 6.7 seconds left, LaDay again found herself with the ball in a do-or-die situation. Just before time ran out, she took the final shot of the game. “I was kind of like ‘what do I do, what do I do…’ and everyone was like ‘shoot’ and I just shot the ball,” LaDay said. 

With the entire crowd holding its breath, her shot went up and into the net to put the Eagles ahead by one, and the crowd exploded. Fans from the Eagles’ side of the bleachers swarmed the court, celebrating the exciting victory.

LaDay had played basketball since the eighth grade, but never experienced an adrenaline rush like she did Friday night, she said.

The girls were victorious with a final score of 54-53.

For the varsity boys, the home opener was a chance to showcase the young, talented team and get an important win.

“We knew we had to play hard and play smart to win. I knew that I was going to do everything to help my team,” said sophomore forward  Zachary Rhone.

The first quarter got off to a slow start, as both teams played aggressive defense, with little offensive play.”Our energy was just low coming out, we needed to pick it up. We try our best to just stay engaged on the bench and cheer on our teammates, but sometimes it’s just hard,” senior guard Xavier Rhone said.

However, the aggression on defense accounted for early foul troubles for the Eagles. By the second quarter, the team was responsible for 11 out of 21 total fouls committed in the half. The second quarter got away from the Eagles, and the Jaguars would go into the second half leading 28-19.

“It’s hard to beat a team when you give them 12 points to start the game, our energy was just low coming out, and we needed to pick it up,” senior guard Xavier Rhone said.

The Eagles started the third quarter with a 15 point deficit, but dynamic offense brought the lead down to two points at the end of the third quarter, with a score of 41-43. The fourth quarter began with consistent offensive play by the offense, but the team lost their momentum and the Jaguars pulled ahead to win with a final score of 56-63.

Though a tough loss, senior guard Cayman McKinney saw promise for the young team.

“We didn’t play our best… the team is young with only, like, four seniors, so I think [the young players] learned from the loss…a lot of us did,” McKinney said.