Basketball is back and the Eagles cracked open the 2016-17 season in a big way on Tuesday night by winning four games at the SoBoCo gym over Harrisburg.
Both boys and girls JV teams got easy wins, the Eagles varsity girls had little more than a workout in a 64-point win over the Bulldogs and the Eagles boys got some late free throws to narrowly defeat the visitors 68-65.
The SoBoCo girls looked even more dominating than last year in their 78-14 win over the Bulldogs.
SoBoCo opened the game with a 21-1 run and didn’t allow a Harrisburg field goal until there were 32 seconds left in the first quarter.
Kylie Shoot connected on six 3-pointers for 18 points to lead the Eagles and Megan Barnett, in her first start at SoBoCo had 17 points.
“We came out fast and we took the game to them,” said Eagles coach Tony Phillips.
“Megan did drive to the rim and showed some confidence in her shot. We had a lot of touches on the ball in every possession and that’s what we want to see. The ball was moving around really well and everyone was looking for an open shot.”
SoBoCo increased their lead to 39-5 at halftime as Phillips emptied the bench before the 4-minute mark of the second period.
The third quarter was much of the same, with Ginny Lewis getting a pair of baskets around Shoot’s pair of 3-pointers and a trey from Barnett. Kate Ponder ended the period with a nifty jump shot at the buzzer.
Phillips said another player was his personal highlight.
“I told everyone that my favorite part of the game was seeing Izzy Smith come out and get few baskets and compete,” Phillips said, referring to the senior who missed last season due to a knee injury.
The Eagles boys had a much tougher fight on their hands.
The Harrisburg boys return nearly all the players from last year’s team that won their district and they were ready for the Eagles.
However, SoBoCo did not look nearly as prepared.
In a sloppy first quarter, the Eagles found themselves turning the ball over, missing shots and being whistled for silly fouls.
“We got ourself in foul trouble in the first half and that cost us,” said Eagles coach Andy Jahnsen. “We made a run in the second quarter, then we had to sit some people down – that’s when they regained the momentum.”
The Bulldogs led 10-7 after one period, but the Eagles jumped to a 20-12 lead behind the shooting of Spencer Taggart and the play on both ends of the floor by Sam Stichnote. However, the Bulldogs fought back to tie the game 26-26 in the final two minutes of the half and then surprised the Eagles with a 5-0 run to finish the half, courtesy of a pair of free throws and an Eagles turnover under their own basket.
SoBoCo was a little less sloppy in the third period, but the Bulldogs would not go away. Garrett Goodnight and Maguire Scheer teamed up for a pair of steals leading to Eagles layups, but Harrisburg maintained a 47-44 lead at the end of three.
Stichnote and Scheer finally broke the Bulldogs in the final eight minutes as Scheer hit a key 3-pointer and Stichnote was nearly unstoppable driving the lane.
The Eagles broke on top 66-61 in the final minute, but the Bulldogs would not go away – hitting a pair of baskets, leaving the Eagles having to connect on free throws to survive 68-65.
“We aren’t really ready to play a basketball game against a good team like this,” Jahnsen said. “Most of these guys were playing football the first two weeks of practice and it shows. We will play better defense and that will make us better.”