By Jeremy McDonald
TUALATIN, Ore.–With Horizion Christian and Salem Academy bracing for what is to come come league playoff time later this week, the two met for a nice little match-up mid-afternoon Monday.
A little weird that tip-off was at 3:30pm instead of an usual 6pm or 7pm tip, but hey it was worth it as both sides battled in an environment that would help them when the Hawks take on Amity Wednesday night at Amity High School and the Crusaders take on Blanchet Catholic Saturday at Sprague High School.
It took until the second quarter before either side to find a groove and by the third, Horizon cut a 31-23 deficit to pull within even at 39 seconds left in the third period.
Wyatt was a key component in the final frame, scoring nine of his 15 in the quarter and nine of the Hawks 19 points as Horizon saw Salem Academy slowly pull away as Williams hit a shot to put the Crusaders lead close to ten with 1:36 to go.
“It was a very fast-paced, very intense game. They definitely brought pressure, just a good game, really intense,” said Kyle Haslebacher on the intensity of the game Monday.
Another key component for Horizon, who scored five unanswered as it came down to the wire, was Conner Zralka.
His five got the game to five with 1:36 to go as they got it to a point deficit with about a minute to play.
But a designed play left Zach Aldrich just open enough to receive a lazer precision pass with under 30 seconds to play, deep into Crusader territory as the senior laid it up to give Salem Academy a three-point lead as timeout was called a few seconds later with 13.7 left in the ball game.
“(We) never gave up, we responded great and played great just matched them every single time,” said Koby McCallum.
Coming out of the timeout with the Hawks having control of the ball, came down to the Crusader defense versus the Horizon Christian offense.
Salem Academy disrupted the Hawks offense as Wyatt heaved a last second three to force overtime, only to have it ricochet off the basket as time expired on the game for the 61-58 Crusader victory.
For Horizon Christian, it was a good test for them to prepare for the Warriors come Wednesday night on the road for the 7p.m. tip.
“It was a really good game for us to get ready for the playoff, we’re going to be playing Amity on Wednesday and we’re really excited.
“We have a good team, we should’ve probably won that game, but it was a good test for us so we’ll be ready,” said the Hawks Cody Wyatt.
The Crusaders will have a few extra days off than the Hawks as they prepare for the Grudge Match with their rivals in the Cavaliers of Blanchet Saturday at Sprague High School.
“We just have to keep calm, keep our composure,” said McCallum. “It’s going to be coming, we’re expecting it. The last two games we’ve played against them, it’s going to be the same thing:
“Come hard in practice this week and work hard and be as prepared as we can be.”
CRUSADER SCORERS- Williams-14. Haselbacher -13. Strunk-10. Daniels-5. Stamback-6. McCallum-3. Moser-2.
HAWKS SCORERS- Sprauer-25. Wyatt-15. Zralka-8. Egger-6. Schielle-4.
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