Wahluke Eagles

This blog describes the joys of coaching an AAU basketball team from Mattawa, WA. Our team and town is roughly 90% Mexican. The blog celebrates and describes life in a central Washington town through the eyes of the players and their coaches.

Location: Mattawa, Washington, United States

I work as a School Psychologist in the Wahluke School District. When I am not coaching I enjoy fishing, reading, and riding my bike.

05 November, 2006

Showing We Belong

(Above) At halftime, the coaches remind the team that now it is our turn.

Flashback to 28 January 2006, when the Wahluke Eagles suffered their first loss against the East Valley Mules after a string of 14 wins spanning one calender year. Some of the boys were in tears as they left the court. East Valley out played us then and even though we fought to the end we lost 39-23.

Yesterday (04 November) was the rematch and we were ready to play. We started the game and kept it close for most of the first quarter but East Valley pulled ahead and the score was something like 8-4. Mr. Martinez and I were on the bench watching, knowing that if our team could just establish their rhythm we could turn it around.

However Alan our Foreword/Center had three personal fouls at the end of the quarter and we had to put him on the bench. Gabino made a series of great shots that just didn't fall. And Oscar was being hit and thrown to the floor with some regularity. We staggered through the second quarter like a prize fighter hanging on the ropes and at half time it was 15-8 and East Valley was in control.

We sat the boys down and told them East Valley had their chance to put us away and drive up the score but they didn't. They had their chance and didn't execute and now it was our turn. The horn sounded and the momentum shifted. Earlier in the game the opposing coach instructed his player to guard 25 (Oscar) as he is "their only scorer." So Oscar brings the ball up apasses to Tony who drives, curves around his defender and throws up a lay-in that finds the net. Later in the quarter Gabino is at the other side of the court and launches an almost three pointer that scores as well.

And on defense our boys came alive. They popped out, went for rebounds, got steals, forced turn overs, and didn't let their opponent rest. Every possession was contested and the score reflected their effort because at the end of the third quarter it was 17-12 East Valley still on top.

We work the boys hard every practice and often times they stagger out of the gym looking for water. We do this because we know the fourth quarter is our quarter. Tony gets the ball rolling by launching a field goal to make it 17-15. East Valley responded and we did as well with a couple of points. So with three minutes left it was 19-18 East Valley still on top. Oscar get the ball and with his tired arms and sore back, he throws up a field goal to make it 21-19 Wahluke lead.

The last two minutes were a blur. We put Alan back into the game reminding him that he had to play tough defense but one foul would give East Valley a free throw and probably the game. And then as the seconds ticked down it was a flurry of shots, rebounds, timeouts, and passes. Somewhere we got one point and East Valley two. But with 8 seconds left, Oscar inbounds to Gabino, who passes to Tony, who with two second left launches an outlet pass down the court as the game ends with Wahluke on top. Final score 22-21, Wahluke wins.

We huddled up, cheered East Valley, shook hands and left the court like professionals. Only later in the car and at Burger King did we celebrate. Alan confided that he did not want to go in during the fourth quarter but he swallowed his fear and did his job. Also in the fourth Gabino wanted out of the game as his wrist hurt but I asked if he could stay in and he did. Oscar told us of the pushes, shoves, and smirks he endured from the other team. And Mr. Martinez Mrs. Morales (our film coach), and I told the boys how proud we were of all their work.

The finals were Oscar 11 points, Tony 7 and Alan and Gabino both with 2. But beyond the baskets were the little things like Christopher and Eduardo holding down the fort and keeping us in it when Alan was in foul trouble. Jose did his job as well and played solid defense not letting his man settle in for a shot.

With three minutes on the clock, Oscar supported by his team launches perhaps the biggest shot in our team history and like Freddy's heroics in Mabton last year, showed that our team is ready.


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