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Eaker overcomes loss to block shots

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Logan Eaker throws down a slam against an opponent at the Coyote Den earlier in the season. (David Rocha Photo)

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Most of the teams that face the Roswell Coyotes basketball team have been told about the 3-point shooting of Tarren Burrola, the quickness, and thievery of Jasia Reese, and the way coach Moses “Dude” Burrola can call on Dominic Nava, Isaiah Carmona, Justin Carrasco, Cristian De la O and Patrick Brown to press and pick up tempo. If for some reason they aren’t getting it done, all he has to do is look down his bench and summon Miguel Baray, Xavier Sosa, Dylan Tucker, Victor Bolanos and Taymon Burrola.

Roswell’s Logan Eaker shoots free throws against Hobbs at the Coyote Den earlier in the season. (David Rocha Photo)

Teams that have not played against the Coyotes smirk when they see the skinny, spindly kid come out to jump center. Opponents think, in this game, I dominate. This is the game I make the High School Hall of Fame, and everyone will be talking about it for years to come; as they adjust their bib to eat.

It only takes opponents one time to challenge Logan “Eraser” Eaker at the rim before they know lunch is over and they figure it out, that Eaker’s no joke. Once teams break Roswell’s press, the only thing between them and an easy basket is Eaker. In the beginning of games, teams go right at him to set the tempo for the game and to challenge him at the rim, which is more often met with rejection or the ball in the fourth row.

In the Carlsbad game, Eaker was challenged at the rim no less than seven times and ended up either blocking their shots or altering them. In the second half, the Cavemen ended up settling for a short mid-range jumper rather than challenge Eaker again. Mission accomplished.

“At 6-foot-7, I think he bothers most people,” Cavemen coach Jamaal Brown said. “He’s a tough player, he’s long and pretty athletic for how big and rangy he is. He’s a factor when he plays.”

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With Eaker’s shot-blocking ability, it makes the Coyotes press and traps all the more dangerous, Roswell often forces turnovers and allow their perimeter players to gamble and go for steals. If the Coyotes’ defenders get beat, they know that Eaker is able to stand his ground and contest shots, or make a team pull the ball out until the defense can reset. Teams seem to capitalize on Eaker once he gets into foul trouble, it seems like that is Roswell’s kryptonite and teams immediately go to the rim when Eaker goes to the bench.

“I try to play smart,” Eaker said. “I want to either get a block for my team or alter the other team’s shots.”

On the offensive end of the floor, he has had to deal with different zone defenses. But it is nothing compared to what he has had to overcome in life. A lot of opponents think they can talk trash to him and get inside his head, but actually, they’re wasting their breath.

Eaker was born with mild to severe hearing loss, which is congenital. He has overcome not being able to hear, to being able to play. He was supposed to wear bilateral hearing aids, but things happened and he didn’t get them until seventh grade. Eaker cannot wear his hearing aids during games and has to read lips. There will be times when he’s on the court shrugging his shoulders like he is asking why, what? But what he is doing is asking his team to repeat the play so he knows what offensive sets they will run on the way down the court. Often he will run by the bench looking for hand signals from coach Burrola.

“When I’m at the free-throw line,” Eaker said, “I don’t think teams realize their fans making a lot of noise doesn’t bother me. I can’t hear them, so it works to my advantage.”

Eaker’s father, Matthew, and his mother, Annette, have always encouraged him not to let his hearing loss be a hindrance to what he wanted to do in life. Eaker gets good grades, mainly As and Bs.

“We feel like God has given him (Eaker) a gift,” Annette said. “We just tell him to use it to God’s glory.”

Logan Eaker jokes about his disabilities, but he wants younger athletes with the disabilities to know that it doesn’t have to stop them from achieving and being great in whatever they want to do.

None of this would matter if Eaker was a bench sitter, but through hard work and dedication, he has turned himself into a recruited athlete. This was far from the case when, as a freshman, he moved to Roswell from Dexter. In that season he hardly looked like the athlete he is now. But through dedication and continual work he is a state champion.

When he played on the junior varsity, Eaker struggled with speed. The summer of his sophomore year he started to figure out the game of basketball and realize if he kept working hard he could play and contribute. By working on his game he was given the opportunity to play in junior varsity and varsity games.

Toward the end of the district, Eaker started to play like the coaches thought he should be playing. Eaker had some big games for the Coyotes but injured his ankle ending his season.

“If we had him, we would have probably won state,” coach Burrola said. “His presence would have been big that year because he changes shots and rebounds.”

One thing the coaches realized going into his junior year was they needed him playing at a high level if they were going to capture the blue trophy again. For some reason, Eaker had a rough summer and it carried over to the season, finally toward the end of the season, all the hard work started paying off as they won the state title.

To get ready for his senior campaign, Eaker has worked on his jumping and putting muscle on. With the Coyotes being a young team, coaches are looking for him to step up and provide leadership at crucial times.

“His hearing hasn’t been a problem,” Burrola said. “He has learned how to adapt and overcome it. He handles it very well and is not afraid to let people know about it.”

Eaker is the key to the Coyotes’ hopes to repeat as 5A champions. Two things have to happen for them to have a shot this season: One, Eaker has to stay healthy, and he must stay out of foul trouble. He is second on the team in scoring, averaging 16.1 points a game and blocks with a team-leading 3.1 block shots a game.

As with the Carlsbad game, when he turned away shot after shot, Eaker didn’t gloat, but he did have a swag about him that said, “Not in my house, get that shot out of here.”

“Several schools have been interested in him (Eaker),” Burrola said. “Whichever school he chooses, they will be getting not only a great player but a great young man as well.”

Roswell (7-4) has lost two games in a row losing to Alamogordo, 55-54, in overtime on Tuesday night. On Saturday afternoon, they lost to Centennial, 50-48, in overtime with Tarren Burrola and him fouling out.

Eaker will be tested at 7 p.m. Friday night when his Coyotes face the undefeated No.1 team in 6A, Las Cruces Bulldawgs (10-0) at the Coyote Den.