Free throws in the final minute helped the Joseph Eagles hand the Neah-Kah-Nie Pirates a 45-41 loss Monday in the Driftwood Classic basketball tournament in Rockaway Beach.
The Eagles from the 1A Old Oregon League made the long trip to the coast pay off when Aaron Borgerding and Wyatt Smith sank free throws in the final seconds to turn a one-point lead into a safer four-point victory margin.
Borgerding led all scorers with 26 points as the visitors rallied in the second half to take the lead and the win. The Eagles scored 23 points in the last two quarters, while the Pirates could only finish with 18.
The score was tied at 34-all going into the final period, but the Pirates continued to struggle, especially at the free throw line. The team hit just two of five tries from the charity line in the final quarter and hit nine of 15 for the game.
“We need to make those free throws. We got into the bonus and we’d miss the front end of a one-and-one. In a close game, you have got to knock those down,” coach Steve Sherren said after the game.
“We had too many silly turnovers. We broke their press a couple of times, but we just couldn’t finish it. We’d miss easy buckets. We have to do a better job and finish,” the coach added.
Max Halverson scored 12 points to led the Pirates, while Willie Davidson added eleven – with nine of the points coming on three three-pointers.
The Pirates finished with a 4-0 edge in three-point scoring but the 12 points couldn’t make up for a 15-10 edge in regular baskets or a 15-9 edge at the free throw line.
The loss dropped the Pirates to 0-6 for the season and improved the Joseph season mark to 4-4.
The Pirates will play Willamina Tuesday at noon. The 3A Bulldogs cruised to an 80-33 win over Jewell Monday. Willamina (6-3) led at halftime by a 47-12 margin.