By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– To get to the finals of the Black Bracket of the Crusader New Year’s Invitational Tournament, North Marion had to grind out two big wins over Portland Christian and Catlin Gabel.
Of those two wins, featured two game-winners: A Grant Henry three-pointer over the Royals Thursday and a Brady Hansen lay-in in the 63-61 overtime win over the Eagles Friday evening to set up their finals match-up with Clatskanie Saturday afternoon.
“It’s pretty exciting playing a close game and it comes down to the wire and getting a good opportunity to make a shot it’s pretty exciting,” starts Hansen on the two game-winners. “It just shows that we’re tough and we battled the first couple games and in this game it paid off, we played well.”31
This game that Hanson mentioned was against the Tigers Saturday afternoon where the Huskies built a 34-17 lead on Clatskaine thanks to a nine point first-quarter by Trevor Ensign with North Marion feeding their big man and using that height advantage from the get-go.
But with the Tigers Head Coach Ryan Svenson yelling from the sidelines, Clatskaine answered the bell mid-second quarter and making North Marion work for their points as they began to chip away at the deficit.
As the lead was now at seven, 38-31 during the third quarter as the Tigers were putting the Huskies into unfavorable positions since North Marion took the 17 point lead, but the Huskies weren’t ready to let this game get any closer than it was as they remembered how the last two games were for them.
“We knew we weren’t going to let them come back and tie this game up like the past couple of games we have that were close,” said Sergio Jimenez. “We knew we had to beat this team by at least 10, 20 and that’s what we did.”
Jimenez helped on the offensive side as he had all tournament, all season long, by contributing 11 fourth-quarter points as him, Ensign, Grant Henry and company put forth a team-effort defensively and offensively to keep the Tigers at bay for the remainder of the game.
“Coach told us, if someone tries to speed up or slow us down, try to keep it at our pace and I think that’s what we did,” said Grant Henry on trying to neutralize Clatskaine’s game-plan. “I think we were very successful and I think that’s why we had the big lead.”
The lead expanded back to double-figures as North Marion finished off the 64-48 win over the Tigers to improve to 6-4 on the season and extend their winning ways to three-games with them traveling to South Albany after the New Year on January 2.
Of the tournament honors, Jimenez was named to the All-Tournament Team following his 13 point Championship performance and hitting two major free throws against Catlin Gabel Friday that led to the overtime win while Grant Henry was named Tournament MVP after hitting the game-winner Wednesday morning and contributing 15 points in the win.
Ensign finished with a team-high 20 points in the win. Griffin Henry had seven points, Bryce Lemon had three points and Andy Schmitz, Jared Hauser and Hansen all had two points each in the win.