By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– When Salem Academy and Amity last met in Coos Bay on March 4, it was a battle to the very end for that fourth-place trophy at Marshfield High School that faithful morning to close-out the 2017 season.
Fast forward to December 5 and a new cast of faces on the court as the Crusaders and Warriors tipped off for both squads fourth game of the season.
And as at March 4, the game was very similar to physicality and toughness as Salem Academy jumped out to a 26-16 before Amity rallied back to take a 32-31 lead following a Tyler Parr three entering the halftime break.
Coming out however, the Crusaders responded as Cole Hardy gave the lead back Salem Academy at 33-32 before a three by Bennett Bos made it a 36-32 game with the young Crusaders coming back, matching the intensity of the young Warriors team in front of them.
“It was all about giving back that same intensity and being composed with the ball,” said Gabe Cuanas, who scored 10 points in the game. “At the end of that second quarter, they came at us hard and we kind of lost composure and we talked in the team room. We said, ‘we got to keep our heads’.”
Entering the fourth quarter, the game was in a familiar territory with Salem Academy ahead 52-47 on Amity.
And as they did in the second quarter, the Warriors stayed aggressive and fought back into the lead with a 10-4 run to take a 57-56 lead with 4:20 left in the ball game.
Sam White, who scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, needless to say played just one of an important part of the Amity Machine clawing back into the game like they did.
“It feels great and it was really cruical for us to get this win, not even for rankings or anything other than our own…letting us know where we are and where we need to be,” said White who finished with 18 points in the game. “We need to see where we need to improve on.
“It’s ‘never say die’, they went on a run third quarter, at the end of the third and we didn’t quit. We just kept fighting, I was in foul trouble, i wasn’t having a good game but we jsut kept pushing through.”
White had three fouls in the game and six-three Kodiak Yaeger was at four, but both still contributed for their team as both sides traded blows like that of the fourth/sixth game a few months ago.
Like in that game, with the game in the balance with Amity up a handful, you heard the defense calls from Salem Academy’s side and that ‘Salem’-call as they came out of the timeout with the Warriors Head Coach Scott Nelson yelling that he wanted lay-ups.
But, what was the decisive moment was when Jaycen Nelson and White converted two costly Crusader turnovers that resulted in points for Amity in the 73-63 win.
The win again was an eerie resemblance to their season-opener to Kennedy where they duked it out with a now 2-1 Trojan squad to a 77-72 win last week on the road, showing again that this team is ready to go with now a week to recover for Santiam next Tuesday for their home opener.
“We knew coming out, after the run coach said we had to dig,” White said when the team came out for that second half. “We had to dig deep and it started on defense and rebounding and the shots are going to fall after that and we got lay-ups so it made it really easy.”
Salem Academy, who too started off the season strong at 2-0, find themselves at 2-2 entering the Kennedy Classic Tournament this weekend on the road and they know the mental hurdles are there, they just got to work to get over the hump as they prepare for Weston-McEwen Friday.
“I think a lot of us got down on ourselves and we just lost our composure , you could tell that with the technical and just fouling and just making bad passes, it’s just a bunch of mental stuff that we need to work on and things we’ll work on in practice,” starts Cuanas.
“I think it’s a great learning experience, it shows what we’re capable of and it’s a lot better than what we showed and we’ll come out better, I believe that.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL- Salem Academy 47, Amity 24. Sydney Brown led all-scorers (17), rebounders (8) and blocks (3) in the win for the Lady Crusaders (4-0). Kristen Koehnke, had 11 points and five rebounds and Aimee Smith had four steals.
The Lady Warriors (2-2) Morgan Croxford had six points, six rebounds and two blocks as Keely Graham had three points and five rebounds. Maylin Williams added six points and three rebounds as well for Amity.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald