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.

03 November, 2007


The fates seemed against us in the moments before the opening tip. Simple things augured a tough game that Mr. Martinez predicted, "wouldn't be pretty." Several of our veteran players were unable to start due to sickness (he slept in tent last night with cousin in the freezing cold) and due to discipline issues from practice. Even our newest player Colin, who was slated to start, had yet to arrive. Lastly this writer forgot his camera. So the Wahluke Eagles faced off against the Grandview Dawgs with odds stacked against them.

Before the recap, a little history is required. Past readers may recall that previously, the Eagles played poorly in the first quarter, sometimes the first half, and a few times even through the third. So the coaches began last summer to work and change our team's culture. We emphasized effort and doing our best the whole game. Most importantly we stressed the need to play hard and walk off the court a winner, no matter what the score.

The Red Sox (Tony's favorite team) gave some much needed assistance in this regard. Manny Ramirez, their laid back right fielder, gave several interviews during the World Series about this year and in 2004 and how the Red Sox managed to stay calm, have fun, and just play hard and leave the field knowing they did all that they could. That became our goal.

So when the game began, we braced ourselves for a valiant effort and hoped that boys didn't loose heart. Grandview wasted no time staking themselves to an early lead. They found the hoop while at the same time stealing the ball at half court and preventing us from taking a shot. Our starters worked hard and stopped them once or twice. Little did we know how important those seemingly insignificant plays would become. At the end of the first period we had scored two points and trailed by quite a few.

The second quarter began with Tony and Eduardo playing up top. Later Christopher did some work there as well. And suddenly it became difficult for the Dawgs to drive the ball in so they worked the sides instead. They managed to score some but we mounted a bit of a comeback and had pulled within nine with the score Wahluke 11 and G-Town 20. Then Grandview unleashed an offensive torrent and the half ended 11-29.

However a few plays played a big part. Jose E. pulled down a few rebounds and got the ball off to his teammates. His speed played a part as he was able to race down court and as well and prevent the easy hoop. Little Collin did his part too by summoning all his might, he leaped up high and managed to spike away the ball from a much larger opponent. It ought to be noted that Collin is a fourth grader playing on a sixth grade team.

When the third quarter began, things fell into place. Every player executed his duties. Whether it was Oscar, Alan, Tony, Christopher, Cristian, Dario, or Eduardo when they were on the court they played hard. All the hard work and conditioning from the summer paid off as the boys fought every possession. Boxing out became common place and outside shooters established themselves which opened up the inside lanes. When the period ended, G-Town had scored 4 points in the last 28 seconds but were held scoreless for six minutes and thirty two seconds. We scored 9 so the score was 20-32.

The fourth quarter began and we were on a roll. Our players were hungry and knew that if that all their coaches wanted was for them to do their best. Each time-out we reminded them to leave it on all the court. We told them how proud we were of their effort and teamwork and how we counted this game a win no matter what the score. Two incidents give witness to these observations. First, each time-out, our players huddled up and listened to the coaches. At first, the G-Town players looked away and only in the third and fourth quarter did they come in close. Second, in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter when were losing, our players came out of a time-out with a smile on their faces.

The actual events occurred so quickly that its hard to remember them all. One play though stands out as the new touchstone of the Wahluke Eagles. Before it was Freddy and Oscar against the Mabton Vikings making the winning shot but this time it was the team. G-Town was in-bounding the ball. Alan and Oscar were moving with purpose covering their man. As the ball was in flight, Dario got a finger on it tipping it away from the intended receiver. Eduardo sprinted toward the ball and got possession. Tony, realizing the possibilities sprinted toward the hoop. Eduardo does a perfect bounce pass, Tony collects the ball and lays it, and for the first time, Wahluke had the lead 43-42.

G-Town inbounded the ball and drove down court. All the boys covered their opponents well and prevented the easy drive up the middle or on the sides. The Dawgs passed it in and one of our player fouled him. The Grandview player had two shots and missed them both. Just as the last shot bounced off the rim, Dario seized it. Later he told a teammate that he grabbed just like it was his hamburger. He passed the ball to Oscar who passed it to Tony who held onto it even when he was charged hard by an opponent. The ref blew the whistle and the buzzer sounded. Wahluke wins by one.

After the game there were tears in some players and coaches eyes. Oscar and Tony embraced and I embraced them both. Tony commented that we finally won a close game. We all knew what he meant. In this same gym and against this same team we lost by two points and we dropped several other close ones as well.

So the Eagles opened division play with a win. Click on the title of the post in order to see the league standings and see our schedule as well. More important than the win though is how we did it. Every player doing their best and the coaches supporting their efforts knowing how important it is to be loose, play our game, and leave it all on the court.
Dario (2 points), Libardo (1 steal), Alan (4 points, 1 steal), Tony (2 points, 2 steals), Oscar (26 points, 1 steal), Eduardo (9 points, 1 steal)



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