It’s early in the season, but offensive improvement could be a sign of good things to come for the East Linn Christian girls basketball team.

The Eagles opened the year with a 44-40 loss at Chemawa on Wednesday, Nov. 28. East Linn then hosted its annual Silver Cross tournament, falling to Santiam, 42-34, on Friday night and defeating Bonanza, 42-31, on Saturday.

Head coach Scott Roth is pleased with the way his squad is playing offensively through three games. Last year’s team finished 7-17 overall (2-10 in the Tri-River Conference) and often struggled to reach the 30-point mark, with multiple games in the teens.

“I think we’re in a good place. There’s obviously lots to do yet,” Roth said. “Last year, we didn’t score over 30 points in more than five or six games all year.”

Against the Wolverines, the Eagles were in the game through three quarters. After a slow first period which saw Santiam take a five-point lead, the Eagles bounced back with a 13-5 quarter to take the halftime lead. The game was tied at 26 entering the fourth quarter when Santiam pulled away for the win.

“We got a little tired, kids playing more minutes than I would expect them to,” Roth said.

The Eagles were without senior Emma Bowler, who suffered a leg injury in the preseason and will miss about a month. Mya Fillis, a junior guard, missed the tournament after being hit in the face during the opener against Chemawa.

Those absences forced Roth to play his starters extra minutes.

The Eagles were paced by senior guard Grace Wilson, who scored 12 points, and senior post Emma Roth, who added 10 points. They are the team’s co-captains this season.

“We’ll lean very heavily on them,” said coach Roth.

The Eagles will be facing different competition in league play this year. East Linn competed in the Tri-River Conference last season facing Kennedy, St. Paul, Central Linn, Western Mennonite, Santiam and Regis.

After realignment, the Eagles are now in the Central Valley Conference with Central Linn, Jefferson, Lowell, Monroe, Oakland, Oakridge and Regis.

East Linn Christian will host Nestucca on Wednesday, Dec. 5 and then travel to compete in the Riddle tournament this weekend.

SANTIAM 42, ELCA 34

Santiam  9    5  12  16  – 42

ELCA      4  13    9    8  – 34

Santiam: Clarke 14, White 7, Ward 2, Duncan 2, Greenbemer 3, Dodge 14, Klagge, Hicks.

ELCA: Wilson 12, Em. Roth 10, El. Roth 2, Medford 5, Menquita 3, Strawn 2, Wyatt, Morton, Jayne.

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