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Senior duo propels Crater over Eagles

CENTRAL POINT -- Crater's boys basketball team is for real, and it went out of its way to prove that Friday as the Comets drilled Eagle Point, 55-38.

Seniors Mike Jacobs and Matt Brown combined to nearly outscore the Eagles by themselveses for Crater (11-4), with Jacobs posting a game-high 19 points and Brown adding 13.

With offensive worries out of the way, the Comets stepped up an already lethal defense, holding the Eagles scoreless for an eight-minute stretch in the first half to gain another important Southern Oregon Conference victory.

It was a really big win, but not more important than any other game this season, Jacobs said.

We kind of expect to win, no matter who we're playing. But you have to have that attitude.

That perspective helped the Comets remain tied with North Medford atop the SOC standings at 5-0. The Black Tornado topped Grants Pass 63-47 on Friday.

The loss dropped Eagle Point (8-7) two games back in the SOC standings at 3-2, with both losses coming against the league leaders.

After the Eagles managed a 4-2 lead, Crater turned on the jets and outscored Eagle Point in the process with a 16-0 run over part of the first and second quarters.

They had us back on our heels, Eagle Point coach Keith Williams said. They came out real hard and physical and we didn't respond to that. When you're back on your heels, that's not a good place to be. We were tentative and didn't make good decisions because of that.

The Comets forced the Eagles into only two shot attempts in that eight-minute span, a full-court shot at the buzzer by Thaddeus Gala and another errant 3-pointer by Gala. Turnovers and steals marred the other 14 possessions for Eagle Point during that run.

For the night, Eagle Point committed 20 turnovers compared to Crater's eight.

The Comets took advantage of the miscues with several easy baskets, using long passes to set up Jacobs, Brown and 6-foot-7 senior Matt Harthun -- who punctuated the 16-0 run with a two-handed dunk.

We were just trying to run the floor on them, Jacobs said. We just thought we could beat their big guys down the floor. Korthals made some great passes there at the beginning. The shots I took were just from me running lanes.

Even with the run, Crater coach Matt Meunier wasn't ready to call in the victory.

Eagle Point made some mental mistakes and we took advantage of them during that stretch, he said. But I wasn't comfortable during that run because I knew they were a better team than that.

The Eagles proved Meunier right, trimming their halftime deficit to 25-15, thanks to the inside work of seniors Phil Garrett and Chad Stuart and junior Jake Kleker.

A 3-pointer by senior Chris Sawyer helped Eagle Point cut Crater's lead to 29-19 two minutes into the third quarter. After trading baskets, the Comets regained their edge as Jacobs and Brown took over to give Crater a 39-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Eagles couldn't get closer than 12 points, as Crater capped the game by draining 10 of 14 free throws in the final period.

We never let them cut into us in the second half, and that's just our defense. We just never let up, Meunier said.

Williams agreed, giving Crater credit for such a stifling defensive effort.

We've got to learn a lesson from this, he said. If we're going to win ballgames, we can't let the other team's defense dictate what we're going to do offensively. We didn't counter very well with what they were doing. We've got to be able to counter with second and third options and we just didn't do that tonight.

Friday's outcome was in stark contrast to an earlier meeting between the two teams on Dec. 23, when the Comets survived a scare to edge the Eagles in overtime, 66-60, for the Airport Chevrolet Shootout title. Eagle Point led most of that meeting, with Garrett

scoring a game-high 21 points. On Friday, the senior post could only muster five points as senior guard John Lucas led the team with nine points.

I thought going into tonight, if we had a good offensive performance than we'd be okay because I was real confident we could defend them, Meunier said. That's what has carried us all season.

Although Eagle Point dropped back into the back in the SOC standings, Williams said he wasn't overly concerned about the loss providing the Eagles learn from their mistakes.

We just need to do a little better job taking care of the ball and finishing at the offensive end, he said. We just never found any rhythm on offense tonight, but it's tough when you're struggling to be patient.

Harthun paced Crater on the boards with a team-high eight rebounds, while adding five assists and three steals. Jacobs had seven rebounds, and senior point guard Jason Korthals had six points and five assists.

EAGLE POINT (38) -- Lucas 9, Sawyer 7, Kleker 8, Garrett 5, Gala 3, Stuart 2, Acrey 2, Crawford 2, Buda 0. Totals: 15 5-8 38

CRATER (55) -- Jacobs 19, Brown 13, Harthun 6, Korthals 6, Wangle 5, Foster 4, Campbell 2, Smith 0, Wright 0. Totals: 19 15-24 55

Eagle Point................ 4 11 9 14 -- 38 Crater .....................14 11 14 16 -- 55

3-point goals -- Eagle Point — (Lucas, Sawyer, Gala), Crater 2 (Korthals 2). Fouled out -- Sawyer, Garrett.

JV score -- Crater 62, Eagle Point 51.

Eagle Point's Chad Stuart, left, and John Lucas tumble on the floor against Crater's Mike Jacobs for a loose ball in Friday night's SOC contest.