The learning curve continues for Kaleb Anundi.
A 6-foot-7 sophomore post, Anundi played in his fifth varsity game Wednesday for Stayton High School and fouled out for the first time.
The Eagles (4-1) prevailed 62-58 over Seton Catholic (Washington) in the first round of the Capitol City Classic at the Sparks Center at Willamette University.
Anundi had a one-handed jam late in the fourth quarter before fouling out. He finished with 14 points and made 7 of 9 field goal attempts.
“I mean, it was frustrating,” Anundi said of fouling out with 2:18 remaining. “But I knew my guys could come in and take care of it. I’m learning.”
For being new to the varsity level – Anundi played junior varsity last season after missing his eighth-grade season due to a broken finger – he’s come a long way in a short period of time.
Anundi is averaging about 15 points and 6 rebounds per game. The smooth left-hander scores most of his points in the paint.
“He’s a true post. We like to dump it into him,” third-year Stayton coach Joe Kiser said. “He’s not one of those bigs that likes to shoot 3s, which is rare. He likes the paint and he likes to finish in there. He’s shooting a great percentage right now.”
The Capitol City Classic includes 16 teams divided into two, eight-team divisions. Stayton plays Estacada at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals of the small-school division.
Anundi, who was in foul trouble throughout Wednesday’s game, runs the floor well and can finish in transition.
“That’s my partner right there. The kid’s amazing,” junior forward Jerry Daniels said. “He’s dunking on kids.”
Actually, Anundi gets more satisfaction assisting teammates than scoring points. We’re talking about a consummate team player.
“He’s a great kid, very nice,” Kiser said. “I almost want him to be a little meaner on the court.”
Stayton is an inexperienced team with no returning starters from last season’s squad that finished 12-14.
Playing in the Capitol City Classic – each team is guaranteed three games in the three-day holiday tournament – provides valuable experience for the Eagles heading into Oregon West Conference play. Philomath of the OWC is the defending Class 4A state champion.
“It’s really a building process for our team, just figuring out how to play as teammates,” Anundi said.
Stayton’s most experienced player – senior guard Cade Nau – was out with the flu against Seton Catholic and the Eagles missed his ball-handling skills. But Stayton made enough plays down the stretch to prevail with Anundi on the bench.
Anundi has grown about two inches since last season, and he plans to add muscle to his 190-pound frame. College attention has not come his way yet, but that could be changing soon.
For now, Anundi hopes to build on his early-season success. But it’s all about the team.
“I’m just here to help out my teammates, so I don’t really feel the pressure,” Anundi said. “The pressure’s equal on all of us. It’s all of our responsibilities to play.”
ghorowitz@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6726 or Twitter.com/ghorowitz