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.

29 April, 2007

Academic Honors

Morris Schott Middle School announced academic honors at a recent assembly. Several Wahluke Eagles received certificates of merits as a result of their hard work in the classroom. The coaches, being educators, value their players educations. While all the players desire an NBA career, the coaches remind them of the importance of having an education they can fall back on when their knees finally give out.

Simply telling the players to complete their homework isn't enough so all three coaches provide a quiet place, assistance, and resources. Originally it was Wednesday study hall, and then a few Mondays ago, players began announcing they had homework as practice concluded so another day was added. And even on the off practice days, different players will stay after school and head to Juan's or Bethany's classroom or my office so they can get help or just a quiet place.

The coaches especially want to recognize Antonio who worked hard in all his classes and reached Principal's Honor Roll for the first time. Cristian too deserves special mention. Cristian began education in English the latter portion of third grade. Last year he was a student in Juan's bilingual fourth grade classroom, and halfway through fifth grade, he was promoted to an on level English only classroom. Principal's Honor Roll means a grade point average of 3.5 or above and Honor Roll signifies an average of 3.0-3.4

Principal's Honor Roll
Honor Roll


28 April, 2007

Getting By

Laffy shows his style
The Wahluke Eagles overcame a strong Sunnyside Grizzlies squad winning the their third consecutive game 33-28. The Eagles victory relied on a mix of fast breaks and passes to overcome their opponents and friends.

Before the game, both teams sat in the bleachers chatting about the other teams and all the things that occupy a fifth grade student. The camaraderie continued even as the boys warmed up their coaches shared stories about recruiting players from varying backgrounds and using sports as a vehicle to rescue the boys who stray and build up the virtuous.

Sunnyside's coach recounted how he consistently saw one of his newest players on the streets at night running with some boys who shared a fondness for the gangster life. He stopped his car and invited all of them to come to basketball practice. Several boys came but instead of open gym and crazy shooting they found a set routine with a great deal of running. Only one boy stayed and now this young man is showing signs of athletic prowess.

When the game began, both teams were held scoreless for the first two minutes. Wahluke made a lay-in and staked out an early lead that they never relinquished. Showing their usual mix of shooting, stealing, and rebounding, the Eagles raced ten points ahead and held on as Sunnyside stormed back in the final minutes. One play typifies Eagles ball. On a fast break, Antonio, ball in hand and Eduardo rush to the hoop. Fruit Cup maintains possession but instead of shooting, he dishes the rock to Laffy who makes the lay-in. Tony had the shot but chose his teammate over padding his record. Antonio's increasingly disciplined style of play was evident by his generosity on offense and defensive milestones of 9 rebounds and 6 steals.

Jose continued to show signs of development by scoring a basket as did Librado who had 1 steal and 2 rebounds. Dario too had a great return. His shooting was off but his stellar defense showed with 11 rebounds. Perhaps the best augur of future success was the resurgence of Gabino on offense. Quiet for many games, Gabino showed his prowess with 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal.

Wahluke played like a team but was hampered by the absence of Alan who hurt his leg playing soccer the night before. Careful readers of this blog may remember that since the suspension of Antonio, the Eagles have been without their full roster. Going back to early February, the Eagles have been without the services of some of their strongest players. We lost Antonio to academic suspension, Eduardo and Dario due to behavioral suspension, and now Alan to injury. It frustrates the coaches and players to set plays and plan strategies around players and the come game time not have them able to play.

Starting on Monday, the Eagles will head back to practice to prepare for their next game. Taking nothing for granted, they will work hard, run, and sweat knowing that winning is a team effort.

Game Statistics Antonio (4 points, 9 rebounds, 6 steals), Christopher (1 rebound), Cristian (1 attempted shot), Dario (11 rebounds), Eduardo (4 points), Gabino (6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal), Jesus (1 steal), Jose (2 points), Librado (2 rebounds, 1 steal), Oscar (17 points, 3 rebounds)

22 April, 2007

Taking Their Turn

The photo shows our two captains during a time-out

The Wahluke Eagles prevailed over Granger White 42-10 on Saturday. Granger is a young team playing their first year of basketball with a mix of fifth and fourth grade players. The Eagles found them to be hard working and good sports.

This game allowed the the junior players an opportunity to play the majority of the game, while the seniors sat on the bench to watch. During the first and second quarter, Jesus had many opportunities to make a shot. Oscar and Tony ignored their open three pointers choosing to pass the ball to Jesus, who being short was stuffed. So in the third quarter a new plan was hatched, set him up for a three. Twice he went to the top of the key and twice Oscar passed and commanded him to shoot. He missed. The third try brought as many points and the fifth shot made it six points. In his excitement he yelled out. The coaches understood his excitement but then took him out of the game as a lesson. The Eagles don't show up their opponents.

Each of the Eagles scored at least two points except Librado. When the coaches became aware, the Eagles called time out and instructed Librado to get open and for the Point Guard to get him the ball. Librado got open, got the ball, but not the shot. He tried from the right side, left side, top of the key, and three but all to no avail. He had several good looks and one that hit rim but failed to go through the net.

Jose and Cristian scored and had their season highs for this year. Given significant playing time, Jose showed that he has been paying attention. In addition to his 4 points, he had an astounding 6 rebounds and 4 steals. When he tried out for the team, Juan and I were impressed with his running and now he is learning how to translate his speed and endurance into coordinated movements on the court.

After struggling through the Fall and Winter, this game felt good. The juniors experienced game minutes and the seniors watched them work hard and try their best. The coaches enjoyed seeing the juniors execute the same moves they practice. And despite his outburst, everyone was happy for Jesus.

Game Statistics Alan (7 points, 2 rebounds), Antonio (7 points, 6 steals, and 1 block), Christopher (4 points, 1 rebound), Cristian (4 points, 4 rebounds), Eduardo (4 points, 1 rebound), Gabino (2 points), Jesus (6 points, 3 steals), Jose (4 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals), Librado (3 rebounds, 2 steals), and Oscar (5 points, 4 rebounds)

17 April, 2007

A Little Celebration

The Wahluke Eagles decided to celebrate a little this Sunday with a BBQ at my house. We were leaving Burger King and headed to Coscto when Oscar asked me when I'd cook chicken for the team, then he asked what about tomorrow. I assented and mentioned that there a fewer places better than Costco for chicken.

When we hit the store, the boys and I managed to multi-task, namely we shopped and hit all the free sample tables. We also managed to laugh a great deal. Near the checkout stand there was a make-up table. As we stood in line, the boys took turns dragging over their teammates saying they wanted assistance.

That night I marinated the chicken and by 4:15PM on Sunday five of the boys (Antonio, Christopher, Cristian, Eduardo, and Oscar) arrived at my door and later Oscar's oldest brother Reyes came by as well. As I got busy with the cooking, the boys first decided to play soccer. Once they finished that, Chris suggested croquet and they all agreed.

As a kid, I played croquet with my brothers and rare was the time that one of us did not get so disgusted with the game that we flung our mallet over the hedge and headed inside in tears. Luckily the Eagles handled the stress a bit better. After the game ended, the boys still appeared to be friends as they drifted inside to play chess and watch NBA till dinner.

After dinner, I went outside and joined the boys in another game of backyard soccer. I guess while we were playing I hacked Antonio a little. Today at practice he pointed to his legs and indicated what I did. Still the game ended and we were all on good terms.

Around 8:30PM, I took the boys home. The next day I cut the lawn and as I complained a bit under my breath about the size of my yard, I recalled the good times like Sunday and realized I really have no reason to be upset.

15 April, 2007

Springing Into Victory

Fruit Cup shoots during the halftime break
The Wahluke Eagles began the Spring season with a victory over Sunnyside Christian with a 58-43 win. Using speed, stealth, and ball control, the diminutive Eagles overcame a taller Sunnyside squad. After a bitter fall and cold winter, the victory meant a great deal to the players and coaches.

When the game began, the Eagles opened up a six point lead at the end of the first quarter by a margin of 16-10 but Sunnyside responded by forcing their big men into the paint and laying in the ball. Inconsistent boxing-out lead to the Eagles loosing the lead. A late steal and fast break lead to a half time tie of 27 a piece. During the break, the coaches reminded the players to relax, box-out, and use their speed to overcome the disparity in inches.

Midway through the third quarter, the Eagles tore ahead with a play that was as sudden as it was decisive and it all began because a player didn't hear the coaches. Co-captain Gabino was on the bench resting up and the coaches instructed him to go in for Librado, as he was waiting for the call to come in, his coaches yelled not Librado but Eduardo. Gabino nodded like he understood but as he entered the court, Librado was the player that exited. One simple miscue triggered the turn around that occurred a minute later.

A Sunnyside player was bringing up the ball and Oscar and Tony were pressuring him on the Sunnyside half of the court. Meanwhile unseen by anyone, Eduardo left his man, sneaked up behind the Sunnyside player, stole the ball, and executed a fast break pass to an already running Oscar. A quick basket and the Sunnyside lead was cut in half. What followed was a rapid series of steals, fast breaks, and quick shots and soon the Eagles had fifteen point lead.

Midway through the final frame, the Eagles shifted gears from fast breaks to a series of offensive passes to chew up minutes off the clock. The first slow down play was a stunning contrast after the rapid succession of fast break plays. All the players kept the ball until challenged then they passed the ball to a teammate. The first play felt like the Eagles held the ball for over a minute before finding the open man for the lay-in. Sunnyside tried to mount a response but the Eagles kept them at bay.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Eagles rejoiced. This victory was no fluke. The Eagles have spent hours and countless drops of sweat working on the fast break, press breaker, running, and diving for loose balls. Off the court, the players worked on keeping up their grades and making good choices, and despite the absence of Big D due to a two game suspension and Me Duele due to illness the team came together and won the game. Spring time in Mattawa means blossoms on the fruit trees, the asparagus harvest, and signs that the Eagles hard work on and off the court is bearing fruit.
Game statistics Oscar (26 pts, 3 steals, 1 reabound), Alan (1 rebound, 2 blocks), Tony (8 points, 2 steals, 2 rebounds), Christopher (2 rebounds), Gabino (3 points, 2 steals, 2 rebounds), Jesus (2 points), Librado (2 points, 1 steal, 2 rebounds), Jose (2 attempted free throws), Eduardo (14 points, 5 steals, 1 rebound)