By Jeremy McDonald
DALLAS, Ore.– Yes. You’ve read the headline right: North Salem did, indeed, snapped their 19-game losing streak.
The last time the Vikings won, December 29, 2015; a 50-49 victory over St. Helens.
Now, nearly a year later, North Salem finally cracked over the hump after being so, so, close this year.
“It’s been a long time,” smiled Alex Vasquez. “Getting this first win is going to give us momentum to finally getting into the next couple of games, we’re going to have a lot of fun out there.”
Entering the second half, the Viks came out with a swagger, a renewed sense of confidence as the scoreboard read: North Salem 30, Dallas 25.
As the Dragons rallied and battled the Vikings to a 40-all tie entering the fourth to force a winner takes all quarter for the win.
Even when Dallas held a three-point lead late in the fourth, confidence was still there.
“You know coach said we had swagger for the whole game,” Vasquez laughed. “But in the second half, we were shooting deep, making them. We’re going to the hole and getting ‘And-One’s’. we were out there playing our game.”
Vasquez hit a three to tie it at 47 as both sides traded blows in front of the crowd, split between the Dragons and North Salem fans.
Rene Romero gave the Viks a two-point lead as Dallas tied it, Isaiah O’Connell puts them up front, O’Connell plays a key factor late as Alex Vasuez put North up four with a pair of Free Throws.
But, Dallas cuts it to one with about a minute to go. However, this wasn’t the typical North, they weren’t going to back down.
And they didn’t.
Vasquez pushes the Vikings up three and as O’Connell rebounds a miss three, he was fouled and he made them both to put North up five.
“Well,” starts O’Connell. “It’s no different from practice. You know, we practice free throws every day so I just went up there and practiced free throws.”
Just as Dallas cut it to three, O’Connell iced the win with two more free throws as the senior finished with a team-high 17 points.
When the buzzer rang, running out on the court first was another senior: Hunter Sullivan as he met his teammates on the court.
O’Connell describes finally getting over the hill top after being so close, so many times, as a amazing feeling.
“You know, that is tough,” said O’Connell. “We all start feeding off each other. So being close, it’s hard to close it out, but I’m finally happy to get it done.”
Head Coach Cameron McCormick is happy to get that first win of the season as the team showed their potential as a unit tonight.
“It feels good,” McCormick said on the win. I think we saw a little bit of our potential today as far as a team on how we can play on the court. But I’m really happy with the turnaround between last night’s game and today.
“What impressed me most was the fact that when we gained the lead with our zone, we had to make a adjustment and go back to man because Dallas kind of figured that out. Then we got done, we pressed not to get rattled and come back to take the lead back again, that was the most impressive thing. We acted like we’ve been there before. We didn’t get rattled.”
That confidence, that feeling, is good said McCormick as they hope to ride this confidence into league play come January.
“I’m really excited, I think this winter break will be great for us because it give us a chance to regroup,” said McCormick. “We missed a few practices due to weather and now that we’re getting a chance to, not only get this win, but with a few practices under our belts, I want the guys to feel that confidence and maybe after this winter break, we can ride that confidence into league play.”
They’ll get back to practice Wednesday as they prepare for Willamette at home Friday.
VIKING SCORERS- O’Connell-17. Vasquez, A.-16. Droiji-13. Romero-6. Sullivan, H.-4. Vasquez, B-2. Becker-1.