The Eagles travelled over the hill to Morro Bay Tuesday night to face the Pirates of Morro Bay who had an 8 game winning streak. It was a battle of the unbeaten in league with both teams sporting a 4-0 record. Last year these teams shared the league title splitting the games against each other, both getting 11 point victories at home. But that was a year ago.
Both teams came in riding wins, the Pirates with an 8 game winning streak and the Eagles eager to stand alone at the top. But the Eagles were missing key players – tough nosed guard Josh Kaiser and solid and steady power forward Zach Headington both out with illnesses and 6’3 high flying center Nate Mututwa out with an injury. Shorthanded, THS fell behind quickly in front of a large Morro Bay crowd, down 13-4 at the quarter.
Xander Shaw led the Eagles in scoring
At the end of the quarter the Pirate student section was loud and proud letting the Eagles know they only scored 4 points. However, the second quarter was all Eagles as they fought their way back with some gutsy play by Xander Shaw and Evan Asplund, the Eagles clawed their back to a 23 – 22 deficit at half, and a much quieter Pirate student section.
Senior Evan Asplund taking it hard to the glass
The 3rd quarter the Eagles and Pirates fought to a draw leaving the Eagles behind 37-36 with only a quarter to play. And in the fourth quarter the physical play and missing players took its toll. The Pirates outscored the Eagles 14-7 to seal the victory.
After the game Coach Cherry said, “the kids played hard given we were missing some key players who typically play a lot of minutes. They were out due to the flu and an injury. Not to take anything away from Morro Bay. They played well.”
Junior Will Costick battling it out with Morro Bay senior Joey Ruddell
When asked about one of the key Morro Bay players, 6-9 center Joey Ruddell (who is listed as 6’11’ by Max Preps), Coach Cherry said, “Will Costick came in and did a great job along with Seth Cherry on their center.”
“We have to win out until we play them again to make that last game a big one.” — Coach Andrew Cherry
Thinking back on the game Cherry said, “As the coach, I think I made a few mistakes as I should have zoned them earlier and feel with all the changes I didn’t sub especially well. However, all in all, I am hopeful given that we took them pretty much down to the end missing three key players.”
Senior Evan Asplund shared his lessons from the game. “As a team, we were missing a lot of players due to sickness and injuries. But the important thing for me and sports is to see what lessons you can learn. This game was a lesson on playing through adversity, and our team certainly rose to the challenge. We played with heart, and though it was a tough loss, we’re all pumped to come that much harder at them later in league. ”
“As a team, we either win or learn, we do not lose. I was proud of how we all stepped up and played hard. I played through a knee injury. All respect to Morro Bay for playing with a lot of heart and class. In February we will all be healthy and there will be a different outcome with our home crowd by our side,” said Xander Shaw.
Seth Cherry shared much the same sentiment. ““The energy last night was great on both sides, I think everyone on the team stepped up last night considering all the injuries we have been hit with. Next time we see them should be just as fun with a different outcome.”
Josh Kaiser, who wasn’t able to play due to a high fever shared, “It was heartbreaking not being able to be out there battling with the guys against one of our main rivals, but with that said they all played their hearts out and I can’t wait to play them at home with our team at full strength… That will be a game to watch.”
The Eagles end the first round of league play this Friday against Pioneer Valley on the road. Cherry said, “We have to win out until we play them again to make that last game a big one. Hopefully along the way someone else in our league will help us out and knock them off too.” The Eagles will get one more chance against Morro Bay on February 7th in front of a huge home crowd and a very rowdy and spirited student section full of Wingmen.