By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Friday night brought some great games to Stayton High School between Stayton and North Marion.
If anything, the Girls basketball game was the Game Of The Night as defense wrecked havoc on two great offenses Friday night.
Entering the second half of the Stayton Lady Eagles-North Marion Lady Huskies game Friday night, the score really suggested a defensive battle with 22 total points scored in the first half of the game as both sides had played some great defense and creating some turnovers before hitting a brick wall on the other end.
Stayton led this defensive slugfest 13-9 over the Lady Huskies as neither team could convert on the other’s turnovers.
“It was kind of frustrating and you could tell it was getting to us a bit, but I’m glad it wasn’t, it didn’t end the game for us,” said North Marion’s Hannah Kinniburgh. “We didn’t say it was all over.”
And it wasn’t over. Far from it.
The defense was still there, but the offense slowly came around as the Eagles led North Marion 21-16 after Stayton’s lead peaked at 21-14 in the final minute of the quarter.
“It definitely felt good to be ahead, we had a little bit of room just in case something else happened,” said Lady Eagles Alyssa Lindemann. “But I don’t know, we held our own. It felt good to get up but it was a close game.”
Close game it did become as both teams made the other work with the finish line in sight.
The Lady Huskies began to chip away at the lead as eventually Mar Verastegui gave North a 24-23 lead with four minutes to go as it came down to which defense can make that big stop.
Alexa Bender found a hole in the Huskie defense to give Stayton a one point lead with three to go, Lindemann increased it back to three after being fouled as Kinniburgh got to back to one with 30.1 to go in the game.
Marching down, it became a free throw game for the Eagles as Lexi Smart was fouled, she couldn’t connect.
Ally Umbenhower took her turn driving to the hole, but was called for traveling inside a 20 seconds to go in the game. Taking it the other way, Lindemann was fouled as she too missed the mark with seconds left.
Umbenhower again had the ball in her hands as the junior went to the hoop again, and as she fell and time was under two to go, she made the lay-up to give North Marion a one-point lead with a second remaining with her being fouled.
Coach Trevor Bodine was halfway on the court with his bench in celebration of Umbenhower’s falling down shot, and though the junior missed the free throw, the shot will go down in folklore of this rivalry of sorts.
“I knew we had to get to the rim to get fouled and I just went strong and threw it up and hoped it went in and it did,” said Umbenhower. “We just can’t keep doing this to ourselves, we can’t keep playing down to our opponent’s level and we just need to play like the team we are, we got to play like we’re number four in State and we haven’t been doing that but I think that we are learning from these previous games.”
The hoop was two of Umbenhower’s four points. Kinniburgh had a team-high nine points for North.
It was a gritty game, both sides can agree to that, but you know it hurt from the other side seeing a lead they tried to hold onto fall away in the final second of the game.
“It was definitely frustrating because we worked the whole game stay up and make the last two seconds of the game but it’s hard,” Lindemann described the feelings after that tough game.
Lindemann finished with seven points as Alexa Bender had an Eagle high eight points.
North will have another tough test Tuesday with Cascade as they try to carry this moment to that game.
“We just have to come in mentally prepared, we got to come out harder than we have these last few games,” said Umbenhower. “We got to practice hard and take the work we put into practice and put it into the game and play as strong and as hard as do in practice so that we can play up to Cascade’s level.”
For Lindemann and the Eagles, they know they’ll need to be better on the defensive front to succeed heading to Newport on Tuesday.
“I think we know we have to stay tight on our defense and just work on our offense, getting it inside and finishing and we’ll be fine,” she said.
The Stayton Boys came out strong against the North Marion boys as Kaleb Anundi scored 12 of his 15 points in the first quarter as they built a 29-24 halftime lead.
“We were playing our kind of basketball and that’s how we need to keep playing and put full games together and play like that whole games,” said Anundi.
In the second half, North Marion found their groove as Tanner Scanlan tied the game up moments into the second half as the senior got the mojo rolling in the third as they held a five-point lead well into the fourth.
Stayton cut it to one, 46-45, with a 1:36 left in the game before the Scanlan iced the game with free throws for the 50-45 victory.
“It was really impressive,” said Scanlan, who finished with 18 points in the game, on how his team woke up in the second half Friday. “I mean we were able to put a lot of things together with the team that we are and we were able to knuckle down and do the little things right.
“Things are coming together and we’re starting to find a rhythm, so things are coming together nicely”
North improved to 11-4 overall and 2-2 in the Oregon West Conference while Stayton falls to 8-8 and 1-3 overall.