By Jeremy McDonald
DAYTON, Ore.– The rival between Salem Academy and Dayton goes beyond their normal rivalries of Crusaders and Blanchet Catholic or the Lady Pirates and Amity.
The history of the two have always been something even more whenever they play.
“I think we know that their a good team and every time we play them. they’re well-coached and their well-played,” said Dayton’s Shawnie Spink who had 22 points and five rebounds. “It’s always a good game. Good team.”
“The thing is, it’s a lot like Blanchet we know each other so well,” said the Lady Crusaders Sydney Brown. “We know certain people like shooting here so…we know the other team and they know us. It’s one of those things like, whoever handles the little things is probably going to win the game.”
Salem Academy built a 21-12 lead on Dayton before Spink and crew made their move and eventually got the game down to 42-40 as Spink hit a three and Kalina Rojas added a fourth-point off a free throw with a 1:08 left in the ball game.
Spink pointed to the fact that they were angry about how the first half went as they got the ball back looking for a tie or the lead.
That did not come to fruition as Salem got the ball back and the Pirates were forced to foul.
After three-or-so pressuring fouls to possibly hiccup Salem Academy in the hopes to make them cough up the rock, Kirsten Koehnke went to the line but couldn’t connect on the one-and-one as Spink went to line to tie the game.
She connected on both free throw with 16.2 left in the game with the game tied at 42 apiece.
But, redemption was their for Koehnke being fouled with 6.9 left as Spink fouled out and was visibly upset about what had happened as Koehnke connected on both free throws that sealed the 44-42 win for Salem Academy.
“I think it’ll be a good step forward for Arizona, we just got to work as a team down there and just focus on, ‘one-game. one-game. one-game’,” said Koehnke who had 13 points and six rebounds.
Aimee Smith led Salem Academy with 14 points in the victory.
The next game for the Crusaders will be like this game but more intense when they open the Tournament of Champions against 13-1 Ribet Academy of Los Angeles. Ribet has six-foot-nine-inch Andrea Aquino that has committed to Oregon State University and is a 5-star prospect for the Southern Section of the CIF (OSAA-Equivalent).
“We’re coming in as the underdogs, nobody knows us in the Arizona tournament and I think that will help us because we’re not used to being the underdogs we’re usually the one’s that people want to punch out,” said Brown who had 12 points and seven rebounds in the win Saturday. “So this will be a real learning experience playing bigger girls and all that stuff.
“Mostly we’re doing this to have fun and to grow as a team and as individual basketball players.”
For the Pirates, they’re off until the Salem Academy tournament at the end of the month that will lead them into their league opener with Taft on January 5, but this game will serve as a learning experience moving forward.
“I think it shows what we need to work on and this game is just a learning experience for the next game,” said Spink.