This archived article was written by: Scott Frederick
The lady Eagles experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in less than 24 hours at the Region 18 Tournament.
On March 8 in their first game of the Region 18 tournament the Lady Golden Eagles faced the Snow College Badgers in the Activity Center in Ephraim. In front of the Badgers enthusiastic supporters (which nearly filled the Activity Center) the Lady Eagles survived the hot starting Badgers and in the last seconds won 76-74.
Even though the Badgers came out on fire and threatened to blow them out, the Eagles never lost composure, and used their tenacious defense to wear down and eventually defeat the Badgers.
We love to press, but we know they may outscore us at the start, said Maquette Potts, Coach [Dave] Paur always tells us to be patient.
Barely into the game five minutes, the Badgers were up 13-5 with the Eagles having a difficult time getting their shots to drop. What was remarkable was the Eagles never looked nervous or lost their poise. They continued to play under control and with determination. The half ended with the Badgers taking a six point, 41-35 lead into the break.
The tide turned in the second half and the Eagles got their offense on track and started chipping away at the Badgers lead from the get go. Less than two minutes into the second half, the Eagles were down by three. Then with 12:38 to go, Stacie Little tied the game at 46 from the free throw line. The Badgers would get the lead one more time at 50-51, but after that the Eagles would never trail again.
The game went to the wire however. With 6.9 seconds on the clock, Mallory Holm was fouled and sank a free-throw to make it 76-74. The Badgers had one last chance to tie or win, but the Eagles stole the ball with a couple seconds left to clinch the victory.
“We played with all heart,” Potts said, “we left everything on the floor. Winning tournament games is special, especially against Snow. We won this one by playing well as a team.”
Little dominated the middle on both ends of the floor and put up impressive numbers. She was two for eight from the floor, three of four from the line for seven points. She had 14 rebounds, five blocks and three steals … she was everywhere.
Guard play by the Eagles was sensational with Elisha Harris and Jenny Fiso leading all scorers and kicking all kinds of butt.
Fiso, with her trademark mischievous grin picked the Badgers pockets for three steals, grabbed three rebounds and got one block. She scored 17 points by going four for seven from the field and nine for 10 from the line. She also found her open teammates for five assists.
Harris led all scorers with 20 and never stopped driving to get to the hoop. Even though she had what could be called an off shooting night, she never gave up and took each shot as if she had never missed in her life. She also racked up seven rebounds, an assist and four steals.
It was a great team effort by the Eagles and they were rewarded by moving on to the second round of the tournament.
Less than 24 hours later the Eagles faced the number-one seeded Salt Lake Community College Bruins. Even though the Eagles expended more energy in the game than the Hoover Dam generates in a month, they fell to the rested and talented Bruins 49-84.
The Bruins win sent them to the championship game where they defeated the College of Southern Idaho 74-69 for the Region 18 title.
(That win qualified them for the national tournament where they defeated Shelton State Community College Alabama 74-47 before being beaten by Seward County Community College Kansas 82-78 and then by Chipola College Florida 53-45)
The Bruins were able to beat the Eagles’ full-court press and make easy shots right under the basket.
Time after time the Bruins passed their way out of the press and found an open person for a lay up. We were a step slower than they were, Paur said, we committed mistakes because of fatigue. Our goal is to be seeded one, two or three next year to be in a better position to win the tournament.
SLCC found motel rooms in Ephraim so they didn’t have to travel, Paur said, and since they had a first round bye, they were able to watch our game against Snow which allowed them to do two things, rest and scout us.
The Bruins had five ladies score in double digits whereas Harris was the only Eagle to score over 10 points, (although Little came close with eight) and ended up leading all scorers with 18.
We were missing Brandi King, Potts said, which threw off our rotations a bit. We missed her in the middle.
One can’t help noticing the disparity in fouls, (30 called on the Eagles and 17 called on the Bruins) and wonder if the officials were calling the game fairly. At one point the three officials had a powwow and asked the local police officers to remove a particularly vocal Eagle fan. He took the opportunity to yell something like: if you are going to call a game so badly you better be prepared for some heckling. The fan declined to leave the game and the officers thought better of pushing the issue.
The game was less about the Bruin defense and more about the inability of the Eagles to get shots to drop. The usually solid three-point shooting of the Eagles was off the mark, they missed all 11 of their attempts. On the night, the Eagles shot 33 percent from the field and 65 percent from the line. This was not enough fire power to match the high-flying Bruins who shot 51 percent from the field and 77 percent from the line.
It was a disappointing way to end the season, but the team should feel proud about the way they came together in the regular season getting wins against CSI, Northern Idaho College and three wins in a row against Snow.
“We are excited about next year,” Paur said. We have been recruiting for quickness and athleticism and think our roster will allow us to press harder and get more points on transition.
Editors note: Scott Frederick thanks Coach Paur for always making time for questions and interviews. Thanks also to Stacie Little, Ashley Taylor, Jenny Fiso, Elisha Harris, Brandi King and Maquette Potts who made time for questions during the season. For those leaving CEU, good luck on your future endeavors. For those team members coming back next year, I can’t wait.