By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Though they played different positions, Post Jordan Sampson of McKay and Point Guard Jaden Nielsen-Skinner, or Skinny, of South Salem put their teams on their backs in the fourth quarter of a showdown game between the two squads.
Nielsen-Skinner described it as something he had to do as a point guard.
“I mean it’s my job, it’s my job as a point guard to be a leader of the team,” said the sophomore. “So I have to be sure that I carry everybody.”14
For Sampson, it was intense that whole second half leading up to that quarter.
“It was pretty intense in the third and fourth quarter,” said Sampson. “Both team’s really pushed, we had a pretty good second half.”17
To get to this showdown between the 6’5 post and the 5-10 guard, it started with a back-and-forth battle that saw another sophomore leading this team:
In the first half, Brown scored all ten of his points and made the rebounding game look easy as he looked like a 6’5 post player with his 6’2 frame as South Salem led 41-28 by halftime.
“I’m trying to do everything I can for the people like Skinny who work their ass off, people like (Tyler) Wadleigh that couldn’t make it because of a technical,” starts Brown. “But he works his ass off everyday, he shows us the effort…The coaches every, single day and they work their ass off and I’m trying to do it for them.”
Entering the second half, the Saxons held to a three to six point lead over the Scots as McKay tried to push tempo over the Defending Greater Valley Conference Champions, something that South had to battle against in order to keep up.
“They run the ball up and down the court,” said Brown. “If you don’t stop them, they’re just going to run all over you. It’s tiring but you have to fight through it.”
The Saxons continued to lead into the fourth, up 57-54, when we comeback to the Battle of Skinny versus Sampson.
It seemed like every basket you heard ‘Nielsen-Skinner’ or ‘Sampson’ as the packed crowd roared to life as Nielsen-Skinner scored 11 of his 33 in the fourth and Sampson scored eight of his 20 in the final frame.
Down to the final moments of the game, as McKay took a three-point lead following a Josiah Castillo Free Throw. but that was met by a three-pointer by no other than Nielsen-Skinner.
As he released the shot, you could tell it was going in. The crowd knew it, Nielsen-Skinner knew it, McKay Head Coach Dean Sanderson knew it.
“That kid is unreal,” said Sanderson on Nielsen-Skinner. “Big time player (who) hit a big time shot to tie the game. Step back three that he knew was going in, you could tell he knew it was going in.
“We couldn’t do much with him, we tried to keep him out of the middle but he got out there whenever he wanted. But I don’t think we played a better guard this year, so he was really good.”
Brown spoke highly of his teammates talent and ability.
“He’s a man,” said Brown. “He did it himself. He stepped up when someone needed him, we didn’t have Wadleigh, we didn’t have Gavin first quarter, he stepped up and really carried us.”
That was with about ten seconds to go with the score tied at 77, McKay took out the ball and began to dribble down the court when Israel Garza walked up to the line with 6.2 seconds left to give the Scots the lead.
He nails them both to give the McKay squad a 79-77 lead.
South tried to dribble the inbound pass up the court to only be met by the press of McKay as a last-second heave for the win barely missed its mark.
You could tell that this game hurts on the faces of the Saxon players, but they can’t sulk in defeat too long as they turn and burn with another game Saturday Night versus North Salem.
“It hurts, but you have to move on to the next one,” said Nielsen-Skinner. “You can’t sit on the loss, you got to move on.
“We just have to come out and play hard and just forget about this game, it’s over with, just come out and compete.”
For Sanderson, the nerves were there as time ticked away as the memories of the past three trips to South Salem that resulted in losses of 14 (2016), 35 (2015) and 20 (2014) as his team found a way to pull off the two-point victory to give the Scots a win at South in recent memory.
“I thought our focus wasn’t there in the first half to be honest,” said Sanderson. “They were playing without one of their better players, but coming here is a hard place to win. This place has been a House of Horrors for us for three and a half years, we’ve lost a bunch of games. I remember getting drilled by 35 or 40. But I don’t care who we have it’s hard to win here.
“But I will say this, our kids are starting to believe that they are going to make plays and that’s half the battle is kids believing that they’re going to make plays and they’re going to find a way to win. But I would like to have one where we won comfortably I’ll tell you that right now.”
At 10-3, the job is not done yet as they focus on West Albany on Tuesday at West Albany High School at 6:45pm
“I think we just have to match our efforts like today in the second half, just go out and play like crazy,” said Castillo.
“We just have to keep going, just keep pushing hard and keep working hard at practice,” adds Sampson.
SOUTH-Nieslen-Skinner-33. Vinas McCall-19. Brown-10. Baughman-8. Galbraith-7.
McKay- Sampson-20. Tavera-13. Garza-10. Daniels-9. Tovar-6. Beach-6. Bangs-6. Hull-5. Daniels-4.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald