By Jeremy McDonald
MT. ANGEL, Ore.– Talk about making a statement out of the gate for the Amity Boys Basketball team to start the season.
With seven, eight seniors graduating from the sixth-place team and four of those being starters the question was how will the 2017-2018 Warriors look entering this season?
In front of them Wednesday was a Kennedy team two-years removed from the Final Site in 2A and was a game away from breaking into the bracket again last season and were eager to open their season with a sound win at home.
Down 35-34 at halftime, Amity quickly turned it into a 55-47 lead with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.
But the Trojans hit some shots in that final minute to get it to 55-54 entering the fourth quarter before taking a 62-55 lead midway through the fourth, a 15-0 run that seemed to suck the wind out of the sails of the Warriors with Kennedy having the foot on the figurative pedal.
As they did against their rival-Dayton at Dayton last season, they battled and stayed with it. Kodiak Yaeger hits back-to-back three’s to make it 64-61 with 3:54 left to get Amity back into the game.
Zac Blake made it 66-63 with Yaeger making it 68-65 on the next offensive possession to keep them within a possession.
Then, down 70-65, the play that turned momentum back in favor of the Warriors on a four-point, made three-pointer by Blake made it a one-point deficit with 1:43 left in the game.
“Yeah we were down a little bit but definitely our defense drove us to score and definitely led us to outscore them in the fourth later on,” said Yaeger on the fight back. “It’s our first game, that’s all I got to say. We got a lot of practice to do, I definitely think we got a good base going into the season and still a lot to work on but I think we’ll be good later down the road
About thirty seconds later, Sam White walked to the line to possible lead with 1:18 left in the game.
“Just walking up, I know I just got to hit that thing for my team,” said White. “I’ve spent hours in the gym, taking those shots so I can walk up hit those shots. I’m confident that I’ll hit them every time.”
He does drain both of the free throws to make it 71-70 Amity. White scores again Amity up three before the Trojans made it a one-point game with 31.6 seconds left to force the Warriors to call time.
That’s when Amity’s defense got a stop and found Jaycen Nelsen open down the court for the easy lay-in that all but iced the game before Yaeger tacked on two more free throws in the 77-72 win Wednesday on the road.
For a team that some who thought there was going to be a let-down out of the gate due to the amount of seniors they lost, this win was something that shows those that the drop off was limited as they enter the La Pine Tournament and it shows them that they can be just as competitive as the team last year was.
“Oh it’s huge, we graduated five, six or seven seniors and a lot of people may have not had any expectations for us being a totally new, four of the five starters never started a game in their life,” said White. “I mean it feels great to get a big win like this.”
“I think grit is the perfect word because they went on a big run mid-fourth and a lot of teams, a lot of non-winning programs are going to shutdown; but we knew we were still in that game easily. Kodiak stepped up and hit two, three three’s and put us right back in it. And then we got that fire and then we went on a run ourselves and sealed it up.”
Amity opens up the La Pine Tournament at 3pm Friday against Burns.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald