It wasn’t a work of art, but the Valley View Eagles fought through adversity Friday, Jan. 10, at home against the Era Hornets.
The Eagles trailed 9-8 after the first quarter, but used an explosive second quarter and consistent second half to escape with a 38-28 victory.
Valley View was without one of the its best players to start the basketball game as Cameron Byrom was delayed getting to the game coming back from a visit to Midwestern State University. The weather kept him from starting the game, but once he hit the floor, the Eagles responded.
“We found out [Highway] 82 was shut down and he was stuck in Muenster, so all your best plans in practice kind of go out the window,” Valley View head coach Curtis Wilcox said. “We were kind of winging it. We also had Clint Epperson come back from having the flu, so he’s only had one and a half practices. We didn’t have any choice but to throw him into a different position. I was just hoping to stay in the game and get Cameron back.”
Byrom made it back before the end of the first quarter and in the second, his five points jumpstarted the offense while Bryan Avalos held down the fort with seven first-quarter points.
“When Cameron and Clint are playing, we can really control the boards and we don’t give up a lot of second shots,” Wilcox said. “Josh Hickson for Era is their best player and a really good shooter. Colby Lewis is our best defensive guy and we wanted to put him on Hickson. Colby did a phenomenal job. He was in his face and he never came out of the game. We wanted to make somebody else beat us.”
Avalos led the team in scoring with 15 points while Byrom had 10 points and Epperson added five points.
Offense is one of the areas the Eagles really need to improve in before they begin district play and Wilcox said they need to execute when they get close to the basket.
“I told them after the game that if we could ever get to the point where we can make layups, we can be competitive with people,” Wilcox said. “Our offense right now is getting Cameron a touch every time. Cameron is a great passer and he’s not a selfish player.”
It was a 24-20 Valley View advantage at halftime and Wilcox said the team is still searching for its lead dog at the point guard position while the shooting guard, Avalos, temporarily has hold of the reins.
“We’ve got to keep rebounding and to stop putting them at the free-throw line,” Wilcox said. “They had a short bench like we do and we need to keep pushing the tempo. We don’t have a true point guard and Bryan was our only returner from last year and is our best shooter we have. He knows he has to be our scorer.”
Valley View was supposed to play Muenster on Tuesday, Jan. 14, but a sweeping sickness to the team forced the Eagles to cancel.
They will travel to Lindsay on Friday, Jan. 17, to begin district play.
Wilcox said he hopes the team can transfer its defensive performance against Era on Friday against Lindsay.
“That was probably the best defensive game we played all year,” Wilcox said. “We hustle, we go to the boards and we’re pretty good at blocking people out. I said after the game that we have to find our identity and in football, our identity was defense and running the football. Our identity is being a good defensive team and if we can hang our hat on that, I’m hoping that can continue in district play.”
Valley View is 2-4 on the season and to get a win over Era after having such a truncated beginning to the year was important, according to Wilcox.
“Sometimes it’s hard as a coach because we have to see the negative stuff, but the kids need to be excited about winning a game,” Wilcox said. “We lost to them earlier in the NCTC Tournament and they beat us by seven points. I knew we were better than that. We came out and did what we had to do to win and we have to be able to build off that in district.”