By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– Coming off the shot-clock, change-of-pace playing of basketball of what California ball offers to close out 2017 with tough competition against 6A-like schools like Watsonville and Granite Bay to finish up the Surf-N-Slam tournament in San Diego after opening the tournament with a 64-59 win over Washington’s Hockinson and how it’ll help them moving forward into 2018.
“I think it taught us that there’s a lot more tougher competition and we really need to stick together as a team. Keep moving the ball and play really good defense together,” said Mya Hammack on the experience.
Tuesday’s game against South Albany was certainly a test in sticking together as a team as the Rebels under first-year Head Coach Trever Ball came out challenging the Lady Huskies with physical play as Ball is trying to turn a program and the culture that won 14 games between 2013 and 2016 before winning 12 last season before his arrival into a steady program at the 5A level.
During the game, though the halfitme result read 28-14 with both team’s having foul problems during the opening 16 minutes, South Albany traded blows with North Marion to start the second half.
“To be honest it’s a cultural thing for us. This is something that we’re trying to reset in their brains,” said Ball. “They believe that when adversity hits, they’re always going to be at the bottom of it and we’re trying to reset that clock.”19
Athletic senior guard Katie Mayhue set the pace for the Lady Rebels with 22 points that included two quarters in the second and the fourth where she scored seven in each quarter. Ball likes to see that from his senior leader, but that’s the one person he’s trying to take the pressure off of as they wrap up preseason.
“That’s who we’re trying to take it off of, we’re trying to rebuild that culture to not put too much pressure on her,” said Ball on his guard. “A lot of times, we don’t do good enough job of shielding her in a sense to be released and do what she wants to do and that’s on me. I got to find a way to put her in the right position to be successful and right now I haven’t found a way to do that so we’re giving her a go the best we can.
“But she’s a good one, she plays with good energy, we like her heart. She’s always the first one to encourage a teammate and that’s all we could ask for as a player.”
Annalee Flores had five points for South Albany as Blake Barbee and Morgan Maynard both had four points each.
For the North Marion girls, Hammack led the way with 17 points with Ally Umbenhower right behind her at 16 points and Mar Verastegui added another eight as Katie Ensign and Lindy Wing both added six points each in the 61-39 physical game victory Tuesday night.
“It was really good seeing our team stay at the same level the entire game,” said Verastegui on holding the intensity throughout the entirety of the contest. “Come out strong and stay strong, even when we’re subbing in everyone just worked well together and it was good seeing that.”
And with three more non-conference games left before Oregon West Conference-play begins against Newport on January 16, North Marion is hoping to carry the momentum from California to these last few games and use that momentum come league.
“We’re using the momentum that we had in California, basketball is a little bit different…the game’s a little bit different there,” said Verastegui. “So we’re using the momentum that we have over there playing tougher competition, we’re using that to come out strong here against South Albany and also against Junction City and we’re hoping to end the rest of the preseason with wins. All wins.”
South Albany (3-7) has one more non-league bout against 6A’s Roseburg (6-4) before they enter Mid-Willamette Conference-play with Woodburn next Tuesday, Ball is hoping that the results serve as learning lessons and as the teachers of what to do and what not to do as they prepare for the league season to come starting next week on the road.
“We’re letting the results be the teachers, we’ve had three really good examples and three really bad examples and this was our third really bad example,” said Ball. “When we play together, we play well. We beat two good teams doing that, we lost to two bad teams when we don’t do that. So the reality is, who do we want to be really comes out who we decide to be.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald