By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It was neck-and-neck as the third quarter was coming to an end between the Santiam Girls basketball team and Gold Beach with the Lady Panthers led the Lady Wolverines by four.
But, as Santiam did in the Crusader New Year’s Invitational -opener versus Portland Christian Thursday morning, the Wolverines began their trek to the finish-line.
Jasmyn Clark tied the game at 33 as both squads traded baskets during the first 30 seconds of the fourth quarter and it wasn’t until Tournament MVP Shyanne Ward converted a rebound from a missed free throw with 6:30 left in the game where Santiam took the lead at 39-37.
Maddy White and Clark turned the two-point lead to six with 4:23 to turn the momentum train in their favor against a tough Gold Beach squad looking to climb back into the game.
“They played really hard and we haven’t played teams that have been that strong,” said White who finished with a team-high 18 points. “In this game, we’ve played more as a team and we made better passes than we normally have.”
The Lady Panthers showed why they were so tough and why this game was so close throughout by cutting the six point Lady Wolverines lead to two before McKenzie Dodge stopped a potential run from continuing to put Santiam up 45-41 en route to the Black Tournament Bracket win Saturday afternoon at Salem Academy as they open up league versus Regis Tuesday in Stayton.
“We played really good and played great as a team, I think that was probably the best game we’ve ever had before,” said Ward who added 14 points in the Championship win. “I think we can look onto that and realize how hard we can play together and work together and that’s how we need to play all the time.”
Dodge also scored 14 points in the win as the Lady Wolverines had three scorers in double-figures Saturday. Clark had four points and Brittany Grenbemer scored two for Santiam (8-4) as tip-off versus the Lady Rams (2-9) is slatted for 6pm with the guys game starting at 7:30pm in Stayton.