The East Linn Christian Academy boys varsity team has one nonconference game left on its schedule before beginning play in the updated Central Valley Conference.
The Eagles faced a strong test against the visiting Toledo Boomers on Tuesday, Dec. 18, falling 64-45.
Toledo is now 8-0 and sits atop the OSAA power rankings in the 2A classification.
The Eagles played a close first quarter with the Boomers, trailing 13-10 after the opening frame. But in the second quarter, Toledo’s senior guard Jaydn Spangler started to heat up, hitting three 3-pointers.
That propelled the Boomers to a 35-18 halftime advantage. Spangler hit six shots from behind the arc in the contest on his way to a game-high 22 points.
“Spangler was phenomenal tonight. We knew he was a good shooter coming into it, but man, we had to close out a little bit better on him,” said Eagles coach Jonathan Whitehead. “We let him get open a couple times early and then he got hot.”
Sophomore post Jaxon Rozewski added 17 points for the Boomers and sophomore guard Mason McAlpine added 15.
The Eagles were hampered by foul trouble to senior post Ben Johnson. Battling against Rozewski, Johnson picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and spent much of the game on the bench.
“One of our big posts, one of our better players, didn’t get to play much tonight because he was battling foul trouble. It was unfortunate,” Whitehead said.
Despite this, East Linn Christian’s bench, particularly senior guard Shunsuke Yamashina, sparked a comeback late in the third quarter. Yamashina’s energetic defense helped the Eagles slow the Boomers’ offense and ELCA closed to within 49-42 with just under 4 minutes left to play in the game.
Whitehead praised Yamashina’s effort.
“Shun came to play today in the second half. He came out there and sparked us with those steals. Made a lot of nice passes for easy layups,” Whitehead said.
But that was as close as the Eagles could get. Toledo regained its offensive rhythm in the closing minutes to put the game out of reach.
Sophomore post Ethan S layden led the Eagles with 13 points. Senior wing Jake Vandehey added eight points and junior guard Trey Weller had six.
Vandehey was active on defense and on the glass for the Eagles.
“I think my job is setting a good example for my teammates and being a good leader out there,” Vandehey said. “I think my job is also being a slasher and kind of getting in there, being aggressive and setting a tone for both offense and defense.”
The Eagles bounced back on Friday with a 44-42 win at Crosshill Christian.
Johnson had a strong game, leading the Eagles with 19 points and nine rebounds. Weller had 10 points, five rebounds and four steals.
The Eagles (5-4) play at Perrydale on Saturday, Dec. 29. ELCA will open league play on Wednesday, Jan. 2, at Regis.
“If we can put together a full game, we’ll be tough in our conference. We’ve just got to get that gear going from the tip-off to the final buzzer,” Whitehead said.