COOS BAY, Ore.– Thirty-two minutes. That’s all they had left in their high school careers. It’s hard to brace yourself for the end, but it was finally here and the question becomes how do you live in the moment one last time?
Nine seniors on Salem Academy and eight of Amity put on their respective uniforms for the last time as they took to the court with their teammates for one, last, hurrah.
“Just wanted to get that win, plan and simple,” said Koby McCallum. “Last game out, just wanted to ended it on a high note.”
The aggression was their from the tip, they found a way to stay within the moment for the whole 32 minutes of the game as neither team gave on the slack of the velvet rope.
Skylar Willams ties it up at seven midway through the first. Rylan Stambach tied it at nine, Hatch puts Amity up two with a lay up as Dylan Stearns blocks a shot before hitting a big 3 to give the Warriors a 14-11 left 307 left in the game.
You could tell these seniors were living the moment of the game as Kyle Haslebacher ties the game with a 3 at 14.
The aggression was there as Dylan Stearns threw his body into a block of Williams in the first quarter and the constant battling in the trenches that involved Salem Academys Markel Moser and some variation of Hatch and company.
To show passion is one thing, aggression and battling is another as both groups of seniors looked to leave a message behind for the underclassmen.
“Just that just because people don’t think it get back here after losing some key people it’s still possible,” said Amity’s Clint Hatch. “I’m super proud, I wouldn’t have any other team…I would rather have this team any other way.”
“I think with our nine seniors on the team, we really wanted to push ourselves as best as we could, make each other better and in practice we’re always pushing each other,” said Salem Academy’s Rylan Stambach. “And I think the younger guys really understand how much you have to work to get here and how much pressure their is that…they just let back and let loose and compete with each other.”
You saw players like Hatch, Deryk and Dylan Stearns being honored to don the Blue and White of Amity; likewise with the Green and Sliver of Salem Academy from their seniors as well.
The passion from that, The passion from the fans, fueled them as Amity led 36-33 with 4:42 left in the 3rd before Salem Academy tied it 41 late off Williams Free Throws
In the stands, the fan base of SA with the eerie, ‘Salem’ chant all as one as a student section and Amitys fan with their passionate fans on the other.
“They love us, it’s one thing and I’m proud of that for that ,” said the Warriors Deryk Stearns. “There always at everyone of our games. They’re standing up for us, they’re cheering. It’s unbelievable, it’s awesome.”
“Fans are great they made the trip down here, all the way down here. Early in the morning game, couldn’t asked, couldn’t ask for any better fans that couldn’t be anymore happier for us,” adds McCallum.
With the game winding down, the aggressiveness of the game was like that of an Ali-Foreman fight as neither were going into the night quietly. They want this game to last forever as they seniors entered their 15th- and final round of their High School careers.
“It was us versus them, back-to-back, going at it as hard as we can,” describes Stearns. “No matter what, we’re going to stick it to the end.”
And they did. Both team’s did. No regrets.
Though the final score went in favor of the Crsuaders by one, there’s pride from both teams in their accomplishments; not just that day, but in the year they had and their times at their schools.
“It feels amazing, we worked all four years for this,” said Deryk Stearns, who was still holding the sixth-place trophy minutes after it was awarded to Amity. “It doesn’t matter what it says on it, I’m proud for sure.”
As a head coach, Ryan Kendall, knows that how his seniors at Salem Academy meant to the program.
“That nine guys that have battled all season, they’ve had several different coaches in the course of their High School career,” said Kendall. “They believed in each other and they believed in me as there coach and they didn’t give up and they fought to the end.
“My hope is, the JV guys, the younger guys that move up to Varsity…See what they did, they want a taste of that and they stepped right in, I got a couple of juniors and a sophomore that were on Varsity over the year, I’m looking forward to seeing them step up into the leadership role next year as well.”
Thirty-two minutes. That’s all these seniors had left in their high school careers…and boy, did they make the most of their opportunity that was given to them!
CRUSADER GIRLS BASKETBALL
Aimee Smith was on fire in Saturday’s third/fifth-place game versus Coquille as the junior dropped an impressive 16 points in the first half en route to a 26 total point performance as the Salem Academy Girls Basketball team finished third in the State of Oregon for the second year in a row
“Yesterday was very tough, losing to our rival but they’re a really good team,” “But coming out we knew we had to come out strong and the boys playing before us and winning by one point definitely amp’d us up and pumped us up. We were just ready to come out to play our hardest and leave our hearts out. You’ll never know if your going to comeback here or not so, we just played our hearts out.”
Now, the heavy junior class on the Lady Crusaders squad too will be in the same situation as the Boys were of being seniors next year that has one, two punch in Smith and Sydney Brown; but the girls aren’t concern as they continue the old saying Head Coach Ben Brown said to them:
“Be the Hunter, not the Huntee’.
“Like Blanchet, we played them four times this season and we weren’t playing to win, we were playing to stay on top,” “We’ll defintely come out being the hunters and just don’t take anyone for granted. If we’re the top team, we’re going to come out and push our hardest and play as hard as they can and we just have to come out harder.”