By Jeremy McDonald
COOS BAY, Ore.–It wasn’t what they wanted Friday when they walked off the court and saw rival-Blanchet Catholic celebrating the fact they are going to the Championship Game and they aren’t.
They were the number one seed, they wanted to be the one’s who possibly knock off Dayton from the ranks of ‘State Champions’, so when they looked up and saw that the Cavaliers won 51-39, the emotions they had and were showing were fully understandable.
“It was really hard, I thought the girls were ready, we weren’t tired,” said Head Coach Ben Brown. “But emotions come into play watching the other team make every shot. I mean Blanchet did terrific and there’s nothing we could do about it.
“I thought we were prepared, we had good rest, we didn’t give it our all yesterday. It wasn’t that we were pushed to our limit and had a hangover today but Blanchet did terrific. They had great D.”
The Blanchet defense forced 14 turnovers on their rival as the Cavs found a way to pull the Lady Crusaders out of their rhythm from the opening tip behind Sophia Poole’s leadership as they kept Aimee Smith in check.
“Our normal attack on them would be a zone, contesting on all the shots, rebounding getting up the floor. When they started going in and the start seeing they’re going to pull it out and stall, so we have to man-up,” said Brown. “Then they started running us around, Sophia Poole a really smart senior, she’s leading that team. Keeps them under control.”
Poole finished with seven points, but led the charge in everyone of her 29 minutes on the court.
Sydeny Brown tried to put the team on her back in the second half as they tried to mount a comeback as the junior post scored 11 of her 23 points in the second half as she went 4-7 from the field and pulled down seven of her nine rebounds in the contest.
As they wait for the result from the Coquille-Dayton game tonight, it’s not like they’ve not been in this situation before. They can end this season on a high-note with a win in Saturday’s third-fifth place game at 11:30am at Marshfield High School.
But, Brown know it’ll be tough though he’s confident that his team can rebound as they did last year versus Coquille.
“That’s the hardest part about this game,” said Brown. “Because the four teams that are in it have the dreams of a State Championship. I view that these four teams are the best in the State. We beat Blanchet twice, they lost to Dayton by not very much. We went and beat Dayton, we haven’t had a chance to face off versus Coquille, so it’s a very good group of four teams..”
After their tough loss to Cascade Christian to start the Elite 8 Thursday, the boys of Salem Academy rebounded quite nicely as they used a 34-17 start to advance to the fourth-sixth-place game versus Amity with a 49-42 victory over Horizion Christian of Tualatin Friday.
“It’s good to come out and strong,” said Koby McCallum. “It seems like right after losses we got a little fire in our bellies and we come out strong the next game and we played well on defense and our shots start falling and got the ‘W’.”
In that first half, the Crusaders shot 52-percent and had five three’s as their defense held the Hawks to 33.3-percent shooting and forced nine first-half turnovers.
With seniors on the roster like McCallum, Skylar Williams who had a game-high 15 points, and Zach Aldrich, Saturday’s game versus the Warriors would mark an accumlation of hard work with one another.
And yeah it would’ve been nice to play their rival Blanchet, who lost to Amity Friday, they know they’ll go out hard and with pride as they prepare for the 9:45 showdown with the Warriors.
“It’s not the way we wanted it to go in the bracket, but we’re going to finish it off strong,” said Aldrich. “We love each other, we’ve gotten really close the past four-years. We’re just going to finish it off strong and go out with pride.”
As for the Man-Bun Aldrich been sporting since soccer…well it’s days are numbered.
“I think it’s going to be gone in a few days,” smiled Halebacher. “I did it for soccer and then it went to basketball, but I think it’s about done. Baseball, I can’t wear my hat, I have to get a visor.”
I say sport the visor, but hey it was fun when it lasted!
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald