By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–If this game between Salem Academy Boys and Cascade Christian during the Second-Annual Yoda MLK High School Showcase is anything like what’s to come playoff time, then things should be interesting.
The game itself was physical, back-and-forth and came down to the absolute last shot to determine a winner Monday Night.
“It felt like a playoff game out there,” said Koby McCollum. “Two of the best teams in the State, both getting after it offensively and defensively. Great defensive game, everyone’s physical, everyone’s beat up after the game, it was great.”
McCollum got the Crusaders rolling in the fourth quarter, and here’s how.
After entering the final eight minutes, Salem Academy held a one-point, 39-38, lead. But that was short-lived as the Challengers did Challenge the Crusaders fight by building a 47-41 lead with a 9-2 run.
Here’s where McCollum came in, the senior nailed a three-pointer to bring SA to within three with 3:17 left in the game. Fellow senior Markel Moser knotted it up 30 seconds later with a three himself as Zach Aldrich gave the Crusaders a two-point lead, all in part of a 8-0 run in a matter of a minute and eight seconds.
“We work hard in practice,” said Aldrich on their fight. “We came out a bit slow, but we came out second half knowing we have to play our best. We came out, we worked hard, we ran the plays, trusted our system and in those situations you have to trust God and know that He’s going to take it and work on what’ve been doing all year.”
But, Cascade Christian showed why they were the third-ranked team in all of 3A as the physical Challengers tied it and went ahead with 1:02 left in the game following a pair of Tyler Cochran free throws.
Salem Academy though, showed why they were the seventh-ranked team in 3A themselves as Aldrich himself scored the last three points of the game through a free throw and a fade away put-back following missing his second free throw with 35 seconds left.
Aldrich said that it’s all in apart to what they practice every day.
“We work through those in practice,” said Aldrich. “We shoot a lot of free throws, we shoot a lot of close jump shots and we know that even if it’s going in, or not, we’re there to get the rebound and we’re working hard.”
They needed to work their tails off in the final 35 seconds defensively as Cascade Christian had a few opportunities to get their hands on victory, but couldn’t find the bottom of the net as Moser was fouled with 1.5 seconds left.
The senior couldn’t ice the game as Carson Cochran quickly grabbed the rebound, took a long step and heaved it as the buzzer rang only for it to bounce out of the hoop for what would’ve been a half-court game winner that gave the Crusaders the 52-51 victory as Salem Academy looks to carry this momentum to Jefferson Tuesday.
“We just got to go in tomorrow high, coming off a great win and just keep it rolling,” said McCollum.
Tip-off is at 6pm with the Lady Crusaders to follow at 730pm.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald