By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It’s part of the maturity process for the young South Salem Girls Basketball team so far this year under a new coaching staff.
Entering 3-2 on the season into Monday night’s game versus Lincoln though, the Saxons looked as if they were hitting their stride against the Lady Cardinals with a 9-2 opening-game lead.
But, Lincoln rallied to take a 17-13 lead off a 15-4 run late into the first half had the momentum arrow in favor of the Cards until freshman Hilary James scored the next four-points to tie the game up at 17-all and Morgan Winder gave South a two-point lead before Lincoln answered back with scoring the next four points to close out the half up 21-19 entering halftime.
For Adrian Lewis, the first year Saxon coach spoke to how his team was doing well executing the plays in terms of skill well, but they are still developing that mental-kick that South Salem teams had before and how he’s hoping that the senior class can help guide along the younger athletes as classes before them have as the second half stayed mostly in reach as it came down to the wire the last few minutes of the game.
“Today had nothing to do with skill, today had to grow attitude-wise. I got a lot of young girls and they make mistakes and they get into their own heads and they make another mistake so our attitude and effort has to be better,” said Lewis. “Skill-wise, I thought we did amazing.
“We executing offensively when I wanted them to, defensively we ran our game plan, our attitude and effort cost us this game tonight.”
The biggest part of their game-plan was to slowdown guard Reed Hazard and post Charlotte Anderson. Hazard had 16 and Anderson had 14 points respectively of Lincoln’s 47 points with three other Cardinals recording points in the contest Monday night.
Down the stretch, Winder was going to the line with the Saxons down one and needing these two free throws to either tie or take the lead.
Winder being one of the seniors on the squad, stepped up big draining both to put South Salem up 44-43 with 47 seconds left in the ball game. The senior too spoke to how this year has been a challenge, but something they are embracing as a senior class.
“This year, some of us seniors are trying to take leadership because we need spaces to be filled, so taking those free throws and taking those little shots down low are helping our scores for the win,” said Winder, who had 12 points in the game. “It’s definitely been a challenge, not only a lot of seniors being gone and also a new coaching staff, but us seniors we have a big class to step up and teach the younger players to work with us.”
Lincoln quickly responded and went up one with 25.9 seconds left, but a South Salem turnover on the opposite side of the court from the benches gave the Lady Cards the ball back and the Lady Saxons had to resort to fouling in hopes to get the ball back.
Lincoln drained both of the foul shots to extend their lead to three, 47-44 with 13.6 seconds remaining before South Salem had one last crack at tying it a few seconds later that fell short as they grabbed the rebound off the missed three-pointer and tried to put it back in hopes of a ‘And-One’ opportunity at the buzzer that didn’t materialized by the final buzzer.
At 3-3, which is weird to think about with a South Salem Girls Basketball program that has only lost three-games or more in a season twice between 2013 and entering this season, but the most important thing they’re focusing on is the next game in front of them which happens to be Glencoe on the road Thursday while getting better in practice in the days leading up to the Tide.
Winder points to working on the little things like moving the ball better on offense and working together as a unit, and certainly Lewis is going to challenge them to do so and to make them think on the run in preparation for their game on Thursday evening.
“Just got to pick it up in intensity,” said Lewis. “I’m going to force them to make mistakes and I want to see how they respond, you got to emulate a game-like situation is going to be and improve upon it and so that’s what we’re going to do the next few days.”
James had a team-high 15 points, Victoria Stafford added seven and Mimi Bolder had five in the loss.