By Jeremy McDonald
COLTON, Ore.– Though a literal marathon (seriously, 26.2 miles), the road game felt like that of a home game with the amount of Gervais Cougar fans were in the crowd at Colton High School, and you could tell that the Lady Cats of Gervais took full advantage of that Tuesday Night.
“With all of our families here, our community, it really helped us out,” said Daisy Correa. “We love playing for them.”
“We’re a small community community and we stay together,” adds Nancy Guillen.
Head Coach Kyle Buse joked that it was like a home crowd was there Tuesday as it shows the commitment across this up-and-coming program that he has built so far.
“It was great,” he said. “It just shows the commitment we have across the program. Not just with our kids but the families behind it.
“Tonight we broke on family and it was just an example of what our program stands for. We are about family and as you can see with the families here.”
The Gervais crowd was loud, it was cheering, it was everything you would expect as the Cougars built an 11-point lead during the second half against a Viking team that eliminated them in 2016 by 33 in the third-place game.
But, they would need that crowd, and each other as with 5:27 left, Colton was within three of Gervais.
“We knew we had to slow down because our game was way too fast-paced and we saw them coming back, and it’s either do-or-die so we’re going to get our game together and we’re going to do ,” Correa said of the situation
“We knew it was win-or-go-home.” Gullien said as well.
For Buse, he called a quick timeout. He knew his team, himself to a point, needed a second to gather their thoughts.
“Like I like to say I wasn’t,” he smiled. “We’ve been in those games a lot this year. Teams have pushed back, called a quick timeout. My girls know what I’m going to say, they gathered, I gathered. Together we caught our breath and kept that one pulse as a team and we responded. They went on their run, we went on our run.”
With 1:26 left in the game, without Andrea Villegas who fouled out over what the Gervias fanbase calls a controversial call with 3:25 to go in the game, that three-point lead was back to eight as the Vikings tried to push back once more.
A foul against Colton gave the Lady Cats the ball, but a five-second call gave it back to the Lady Viks
A scrappy few possessions resulted in Colton cutting the lead by one as the Cougars called full time with 47.6 left and ball in control in favorable territory and after a scramble Gullien was lining up at the lime with 35.2 left.
She couldn’t make either as the Vikings dribbles up court for a lay up.
It misses as Isabel Vasquez rebounds and was fouled as the freshman makes the biggest free throw attempts of her young prep career.
She makes the first with 24.6 left to put the Cougars up eight but misses the second as Fabi Benavides rebound and was fouled.
The senior sealed the nine-point, 37-28 victory on her made second free throw; and as time expired on the game, sending Gervais to Sprague High School Saturday at 1pm, the crowd was loud and the smiles were on full force on the faces of the Gervais Girls Basketball team.
“It’s awesome, it’s amazing,” said Correa who finished with 14 pointss. “Honestly we all came out, played our game we perfected it…and we needed it and we got it and we’re off to Saturday.”
They’ve been here before last year, one game to decide if they go State Tournament dancing before losing to the Vikings; this year, it’s Scio standing in their way.
And though both teams split the season series, the Loggers present a similar tough test to the Lady Cats as Colton did, but Buse is confident that this year’s team has what it takes to get over the hump and get into the Field of 16.
“This team’s different,” said Buse. “Last year we came here to Colton and lost by 33. This year this come here and take care of our business and hopefully do the same thing Colton did last year and as a four-, five-seed and upset the number three seed and go to State.”
Well see what Saturday afternoon brings between these two squads!
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PHOTOS BY JEREMY MCDONALD