By Jeremy McDonald
MOLALLA, Ore.– Up 21-7 early in the second half against Burns, Salem Academy were piecing together yet another summer win to advance to the Country Christian Tournament Championship game.
The Lady Crusaders’ summer has been filled with several learning lessons to help better them when the season begins here in a few weeks.
Yeah they are playing unselfishly, as any Ben Brown team have done before, along with the strong core of players the program as built around.
“We’re playing unselfhly, we’re very deep, great defense right now, which is what we started with is defense first,” starts Brown. “So the girls have really bought into that and we just got a really good core group and everyone’s accepting their role and getting much better.
“So it’s been fun since the Southridge Tournament to now, it’s a whole different team, patient on offense, all the plays are well executed, so I’m happy.”
Aggression is one as they learned in the George Fox Tournament last weekend when they took on the 6A Champions in Southridge was a key learning experience how to be aggressive and physical during a game as some of their depth saw quality time in that game too entering this weekend’s game.
“We still play about eight against Southridge, so we still went pretty deep in our bench more so than most teams but the girls all play the same way,” “They all learn from each other, the older girls teach the younger girls how to play defense, the intensity of the game.
“And then here, we’re a big team as far as size, we’re deep and we’re fast and we’re athletic and you don’t feel that playing the 6A’s because they are all the same, and then it comes down to execution and talent which I’m happy to see at Southridge and George Fox.”
Entering this week’s games, against schools of similar sizes like the Gervais’, the Amity’s, the Burns and Kennedy’s and Brown points to how they used that aggression from the GFU Tourney and transferred it to this tournament in Molalla this weekend as they now learn to use this aggression against their own.
“Now you come into these games, where your playing schools that are more your size (in) population, but we’re physically-dominating and the girls are learning abotu physically dominating but still know you still got to execute still, (and) not just getting into a hurry because your bigger, stronger, faster and make silly mental mistakes,”
“So that’s what I like seeing here, was the mental toughness of when team’s are hanging with you and, ‘Yeah, we know we’re going to pull away, but we better start executing or we won’t pull away’.”
After finishing up at the Country Christian Tournament, Salem Academy will travel to Point Loma in the San Diego-area and will be participating in that tournament down there to finish up the summer season.
And though they’ll go down there for the business of playing basketball, that and the rest of the summer is just another big part of making memories for the girls.
“We like doing stuff like that, one is about the memories for the girls,” said Brown. “Some of them will look back at their High School Basketball Career and this is the stuff they’ll remember, going swimming between games at the Country Christian Tournament or going down to Point Loma for that Tournament and playing on the beach and that’s what High School Sports means.”
As the team was down swimming during the break before their third-game of the day, Coach Brown stayed behind with a preztel and cheese as he stays in the cool gym on campus.
“It’s very exciting, I have a couple of hours to do nothing, and my team’s gone and that’s great…
before I have to go clean up the trailer,” laughed and smiled Brown.