By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—A hunger for a win, a hunger for redemption, a hunger to prove themselves.
At 0-19, the North Salem Girls Basketball Team are confident that they will squeeze out win number one against their rival off of Lancaster on the road.
“It’s the second rodeo, it’s the second around,” said Head Coach Brent Turner. “We know what they’re going to do. We match-up well with them and our girls are going to come out with the mindset of, this is our game to win.
“This is our Super Bowl. This is our National Championship (Game). This is our Game Seven.’ There’s no going back after this.”
For senior Kelsey Blackbird, she knows how important this game is as this is the last time she’ll ever play against the Royal Scots.
“It’s really important,” said Blackbird.“I feel like we’re going to do a good job with the defense and offense just because we’ll pass the ball good and have good communication. So I’m excited to play them.”
The last time these two teams met, McKay had to hold off a fourth-quarter rush by the Lady Viks for a 29-18 win on December 11.
“What gave us fits the last time we played them was their defense,” said Turner. “They set up this half court trap where they’re trapping them in the corners, so I set up something for it.”
Turner explained what his plan is, but for the sake of competition we won’t share it in this article.
As practice ended with some intrasquad competition, confidence is high for the Lady Viks of North Salem.
“Confidence is just going to be key when your playing. We all know the plays, we know what we’re doing and it’s going to be a really big thing to have in the game to go up to your opponent and say, ‘hey I’m better than you’. At the end of the day, we’re looking for a win.”
“Our game plan is to win, simple and said,” added Sydnee Rupp. “The hunger for us is trying to get our first win and trying to give our all.”
Tip off for this epic Grudge Match is 5:45pm at McKay High School.
This rivalry between North Salem and McKay dates back over the past few years as both sides played with a lot of heart said junior guard Alex Vasquez.
“They’re basically our rival because the past few years we’ve been evenly match,” said Vasquez. “So it’s going to be an high intensity game (and) a lot of heart so it’s going to be a good battle.”
The last time these two teams met on December 11, the Original Salem High School committed 30 turnovers in the 75-59 loss to the Royal Scots.
But, said Vikings Head Coach Jordan Granteo, the game plan Friday night will be focusing around what they are sluggish around: Ball Control.
More specifically, ball control to work around McKay’s traps on defense.
“Just being strong with the ball against their traps,” said Vikings Head Coach Jordan Granteo. “If you can do that and you take care of the ball, your going to have success against them. But doing that is harder than said.
“That’s going to be the same key for us, to take care of the ball and not turning it over.”
For Vasquez, he knows that if they slow down the game against how fast-paced the Scots love to run on offense by staying focus and making good decision with the ball.
“Slowing the game down so we can stay closer in the game,” said Vasquez. “They’re a high pace team, they like scoring a lot. If we slow it down then they don’t have the ball as much and it’ll frustrate them.”
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!