With their Feb. 26 victory over the Springfield Millers, the Eagles men’s basketball team earned a spot in the post-season and the hope of competing with the top eight teams in the State Championships at Matthew Knight Arena. All that stood in their way were the West Albany Bulldogs. Sadly, though, the outcome was not as the Eagles desired. At West Albany High School on Friday, Mar. 1, the Eagles lost their playoff game to the Bulldogs by a 43 – 69 score.
It is no secret that, with the loss of players like Garrett Snow, Zach Reed, and Tyrone Holmes, the Eagles have found themselves at a size disadvantage for much of this season. This playoff game was no different. The West Albany varsity lineup has three players who stand 6’8” tall, two of which are starters. Meanwhile the tallest Eagle Point players, Austin Holmes and Peyton Dole, each stand at 6’4”.
The Bulldogs also entered this game riding a six game winning streak. According to court-side announcers for KSHO AM 920, this has been the longest winning streak of the past seven years for the Bulldogs. On top of that motivation, West Albany must have been eager to redeem their loss to Eagle Point at the exact same point in the season last year. In short, the outcome of this game is important to any high school basketball team.
The Eagles played their best game in the first quarter, during which they gained a momentary lead on a wide three-pointer from Jorge Quintero. Eagle Point’s trademark physical intensity could be gleaned from the disappointed protests in the Bulldogs’ home crowd. Some would call it rough play. Others, especially those with the surname Zerger, would probably just call it basketball.
But, despite their relative success in the first, foul trouble started soon after that, and the Eagles spent most of the second quarter trying to close the gap. They managed to keep West Albany’s lead to a winnable nine points, assuming Eagle Point could work some magic in the third quarter.
Instead, the magic happened on the other side of the court. West Albany’s three slam dunks in third quarter, from Jalen Schlegel and Nate Sherwood, all but sealed the Eagles’ fates. By that time, the twenty-point deficit was too much to overcome. Sources report that Cesar Chavez displayed extraordinary hustle even in the closing minutes.
Overall, Quintero scored 17 points, and Chavez scored 10 points.
We congratulate everyone on the Fighting Eagles basketball team for finishing a strong season with a 15-10 record, including the three consecutive wins over their only league competitor, Ashland.