By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– This rivalry was something of awesomeness every time they meet. They know each other, they respect each other though they want to beat the other.
“It’s been a rivalry for a while now,” said Salem Academy’s Boys Basketball Big Man Markel Moses. “I think it’s both teams not liking each other, but I don’t have a problem with Blanchet. They’re good kids, good team. They’re good competition for us…there one of the best teams in our league.”
The Crusaders would cruise to a 11-point victory over the Cavaliers with Salem Academy holding a double-figure lead for the majority of the game as both teams pull even in the league at 6-1.
From the other end, Blanchet’s Ana Coronado described the rivalry as each side knowing the other side.
“It’s a rivalry,” said Coronado. “I mean we all have respect for each other, both guys and girls having respect for each other. It’s a rivalry and we know it is, we know Coach (Ben ) Brown, we know their two daughters as well. All of us sophomores play club together including Coach Brown’s daughters, so it’s not like we’re strangers.”
You saw this mutual respect as the Lady Crusaders Ben Brown and Coronado traded a smile, a handshake and a laugh as they went to their separate locker rooms Tuesday.
But the game that preceeded that was intense as the physicality and fight in this game was intense.
The game was in favor of Salem Academy 9-8 after one, tied at 14 by halftime and back in favor of the Lady Crusaders by the end of three.
The Cavs tried to shut down and take Aimee Smith and Sydney Brown out of the game to the best that they can as Brown scored 18 in the contest and Smith added another seven of SA’s 38 points.
“That were their key players, that’s why we were focused on them,” said Coronado. “We focused on their other players just as much but we knew that they were their two key players. And they’re tough, they’re really tough but we tried not to let them go. There a good team but Aimee Smith and Sydney Brown are really their leaders and we know that, we know how their play.”
Brown was a physical presence once more in the trenches as she picked up eight rebounds as Smith’s shot that put Salem Academy up 24-22 entering the third sparked their run in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“We just knew we had to come out strong and push the tempo,” said Smith. “We had to focus on rebounding, they’re struggling on offensive rebounds, so we picked that up in the fourth quarter and we were determined to get past three on them so we could win.”
The Lady Crusaders increased their lead to 11 in the fourth, but BC didn’t give in as they cut it to seven following a pair of free throws by Sophia Poole with 90 seconds left as the Lady Cavaliers battled.
“We tried to fight back,” said Coronado. “We tried. We kind of broke down a bit, we didn’t stick with it the whole time as we planned to, but we still tried to fight to do whatever we could to win.”
Blanchet had to foul at the end to try to get back the ball quickly only to come up on the short end of the stick as Salem Academy pulled even with them in the PacWest Standings at 6-1.
“We just going to continue to fight in league right now, if anything get better,” said Coronado. “So we can prepare for them the next time we see them because this was not the last game. We’re going to see them in the playoff game, we’re going to see them and we’re only prepare to get better and find our own weakeness’ and do whatever we can to try to defeat them again like last time.”
Coronado finished with six points and seven rebounds in the lost as the Cavs look to Jefferson on Friday on the road. The Lions defeated Colton 36-34 Tuesday night at home.
As for the Lady Crusaders, as they look at this game as part of the ‘Second Tournament’ that is league, they know they are still in it, but they still got games to go until the end of the season.
“It’s very important, I don’t know it’s very hard to explain,” said Sydney Brown with a smile. “We’re not done with it yet, we went over the big hill but we still have other hills. We got Colton and Scio, we still have to stay focused as a team and we’re still going through the tournament, we still have to stay strong and mentally focused.”
With Scio coming up Friday, they know that the Lady Loggers (5-9, 3-3) will be just as tough defensively as Blanchet was Tuesday, but they’ll be ready as they take on another test in the ‘Second Tournament’.
“It put us in the driver seat for the conference,” said SA’s Girls Head Coach Ben Brown. “We still have games to play, our conference is actually getting much deeper now. Good coaches and good players that are working hard.
“So we have to play every night and the girls know that, but they know getting a win over Blanchet is a step forward to getting our third straight conference title and you know, that’s what we go first and then look at the State Playoffs.”
CRUSADER SCORERS- Brown, S-18. Smith-7. Hardy-6. Campbell-5. Brown, G.-2.
CAVS SCORERS- Poole-16. Coronado-6. Hittner-3. Salang-2. Phipps-2.
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