SALEM, Ore.– The Market Street Rivalry was something Friday night.
On the scoreboard side of the stands, the McKay Student Section was there to support their 2-1 Scots; on the other with the banners of each of the Greater Valley Conference teams, the North Salem Student Section, cheering on their boys in hopes they can continue their momentum from Tuesday’s game versus St. Helens to their rivals Friday night.
North’s Alex Vasquez, coming off of his 26 point performance versus St. Helens Tuesday, describes the rivalry as intense as each team, each player, knows someone from the other team pretty well.
“It’s intense,” he said. “It’s definitely intense because a bunch of us know each other and we just say little things to each other, get into each other heads, it’s great atmosphere. It’s always fun to win, we’ll try hard for it next time.”
McKay’s Jordan Sampson, who played at North last year before transferring to McKay this year, said it was nice being back in the gym he called home last year.
“It’s good, it was a little nerve racking at first but I kind of got through it,” said Sampson on the feeling of being back.
Sampson and Vasquez both finished with identical six point performances, but it was Vasquez who started it off first as the game started with technical foul free throws before tipoff. Vasquez hit one of the two free shots to give North a 1-0 lead at tip.
When the tip did happen, Vasquez led his team to battle versus their rival as they proved early this was not the 2015 Vikings that lost to the Scots by 16 and 27 last year as Vasquez hit a three to put North up one 1:41 left in the first.
And it was a taste of the full game effort that the North Salem Vikings gave to the Scots early on.
“We gave it our all,” described Vasquez. “I heard their coach over there say that we beat them in every position, that’s what he told our coach and I honestly do believe we did that. We just didn’t make shots when we need to and that’s the name of the game right there, we have to make shots.”
McKay built a nine-point lead in the second, only to have the Viks crawl back as Braden Vasquez hit a buzzer beating three to tie it at 28. The Scots look stunned as they weren’t expecting this as the North student section were going nuts of the shot.
Coming out in the third quarter, it was a slugfest like it was late in the second as North built a five-point lead only to see McKay rally to tie it before the Vikings went on a 6-0 run for a lead.
Back-and-forth, North’s Hunter Sullivan dives for a loose ball with McKay’s Josiah Castillo, Scot’s Sampson and Ryan Bangs go for rebounds with the Vikings Jason Backer and Rene Romero as the game went into the fourth as the team’s look for that final burst in this physical game.
“It’s tough,” said Noah Tavera. “Both crowds were getting into it so it’s loud all the time but they were a tough team. As long as we give our full court effort that we did in the fourth quarter, I feel that we can pretty much handle the whole game.”
McKay found their groove that has made them so dangerous early in this season as Sampson used his 6’5 frame to kick the ball out to Tavera and crew as a tight game grew to nine.
The Vikings Backer knocked it to seven with about three minutes and some change left to give North a chance for the win.
But the Scots were too much late as they won 86-70 to improve to 3-1, their first 3-1 record since going 7-0 to start the 2013/2014 season.
“It feels pretty good, it’s a good start to the year but we still have some work to do,” said Tavera.
North Head Coach Cameron McCormick enjoyed how much his team battled out there as his team pieces together a complete game.
“I’m really proud, we took a big step in the right direction as far as we need to compete and how we need to treat each quarter,” said McCormick.
“That is the big mystery,” McCormick continues about piecing together a complete game. “I honestly think we put ourselves into trouble with fouls, so instead of being able to play with whatever rotation we wanted, our hand was kind of forced. We were forced to play the rotation that were available.”
But, though he’s excited to play these guys again, he knows McKay’s Head Coach Dean Sanderson will have something up his sleeve come their rematch February 3 at McKay High School.
“(I’m) very excited,” said McCormick. “We know that Sanderson’s really smart, I know he’s going to have some sort of scheme up his sleeve and so we might not be able to duplicate the same thing, we might have to come up with something different.”
As for now, the Scots will focus on West Salem at West Tuesday while North host McNary Tuesday evening.
Quarters 1 2 3 4 — T
SCOTS 14 14 27 31 – 86
VIKINGS 13 15 27 15 – 70
MCKAY SCORERS-Daniels, 24. Garza, 12. Bangs-9. Tovar-8. Tavera-6. Sampson-6. Beach-5. Hull-5. Kovalinko-4. Joel-2.
NORTH SCORERS: Vasquez, B-14. Backer-11. O’Connell-10. Romero-10. Drioji-9. Vasquez, A.-6. Duran-6. Sullivan, H.-2. Sullivan, Z-2.
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Photos by Jeremy McDonald