By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– You could tell both teams were using this particular match-up Tuesday in preparation for the playoffs, McKay for a play-in game, South for the Field of 32, but the game was beneficial nonetheless.
“One lesson I can personally take is play better defense and not getting into foul trouble like I did,” said the Saxon’s Ryan Brown. “And our team needs to take away is that they forced us to run the tempo we’re not used to, we got to slow it down a little more and run through our game so nobody can beat us.”
The Scots Hayden Hull adds to it that they need to take full advantage of the next two days because there’s no promises beyond Friday evening against whoever they be matched-up against.
“We just have to focus on these two practices and use our last two guarantee practices and got to make them count,” said Hull. “I hope we extend our season past Friday.”
Hull had 13 points on his Senior Night only to be outdone by fellow senior in Shaton Daniels who had a team-high 16 points for the Scots.
In the game itself, McKay jumped out to a 18-9 lead out of the gate versus a sluggish Saxons team before Tyler Wadleigh and Jaden ‘Skinny’ Nielsen-Skinner sparked a rally that had South once a nine-point lead early in the third quarter as South took advantage of the Scots turnovers.
“We came out really slow, we picked it up at half, we knew we had to come out hard,” said Nielson-Skinner. “We had to put our track shoes on.”
The Sophomore scored 27 points, a point fewer than his teammate Wadleigh who had a game-high 28 as McKay struggled to find ways to slow both guards down.
Eventually the Scots got into another grove as they cut the deficit to one right before the end of the third quarter as McKay looked to complete the season sweep of South entering the fourth quarter down three.
The runs like that one shows character about how much the Scots program improved since their last playoff appearance in 2013.
“It shows that we’re a team that doesn’t give up no matter what’s happening,and that we can compete with a playoff team and we’re a playoff team,” said Khyler Beach, the junior had eight points in the contest.
Entering the fourth, the crowd was loud and it was packed in the McKay gym as the atmosphere was that of an actual postseason game.
“It’s definitely the same kind of atmosphere of big crowds, really fast paced. I think our guys are ready for it,” said Nielsen-Skinner.
But South would shut the door on the Scots in the final frame as turnovers and fouls slowed the McKay pace down as they gave their fans who made the trip to Northeast Salem a 87-77 victory as both teams enter the postseason with an idenitcal 12-12 overall record.
“We’re just getting started, playoffs are here. We’re just getting started,” said Nielsen-Skinner.
“I’m really excited, I’ve never been to the playoffs before,” adds Brown with a smile.
For the McKay Boys, most on the roster now were underclassmen or were still in Middle School the last time the Scots were in the postseason; they are excited for what is to come with this great opportunity in front of them.
“Me being on Varsity last year and the year before swinging, there’s no feeling of saying that your team is going to the playoffs and I really want to be apart of that and I know the rest of the seniors do as well.”
McKay Scorers- Daniels-16. Hull-13. Castillo-12. Tovar-11. Beach-8. Joel-7. Tavera-4. Bangs-4. Garza-2.
South Scorers- Wadleigh-28. Nielsen-Skinner-27. Baughman-8. Vogt-8. Galbreath-8. Brown-8. .
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