By Jeremy McDonald
It’s probably one of the best rivalries in the State of Oregon let lone the 3A level:
“This rivalry has gone back a long ways, as long as I can remember,” smiled and laugh Dayton’s Tanner Lewis. “But it’s all good fun and it’s just a great night.”
“I think it’s fun, I love rivalries, I love playing against…games like that where it’s high-intensity,” adds Amity’s Kodiak Yaeger. “It’s fun to play.”
After the Lady Pirates held off the Lady Warriors by four, it looked like the first edition of the guys rivalry game would be a one-sided affair because Dayton jumped out of the opening tip leading 10-2 by taking advantage of rebounding and turnovers of their rival.
However, just as the Pirates were turning on the burners, the Warriors picked themselves off the mat by going on a 11-4 run that featured a Zac Blake trey that then cut it to 14-13 before Dayton added one more before quarters end for the 15-13 lead.
The game continued with some runs, but not really any real ‘dagger’ runs that just would bury the other team for good with the game as Sam White’s three gave Amity a brief 29-28 lead at the halftime break before Dayton jumped out to a 12-point lead during the second half thanks to Lewis leading the charge.
“Our team knows that we can get it rolling and if they can give me the ball and things are going our way, we’re going to get those kinds of looks,” said Lewis who had 12 of his 16 points in the second half. “And Braeden (Nowlin) was really on fire in the first half and it helped us out.”
Nowlin scored 13 of his 24 points in the first half, as both teams traded blows leading up to that 12-0 run Dayton had to go up 48-36 during the third quarter after Yaeger and Amity tied it at 36 a few possessions earlier.
Now, as some teams who go quietly into the night seeing Nowlin, Lewis and Jaysen Howard hitting shots and making crucial free throws in the run and in the second half; but the Warriors weren’t one of them as Yaeger, Blake and White led the charge cutting the lead to 48-46 with 7:13 remaining after White connected on one of his two three’s and one of the Warriors eight three’s as the game saw 14 three-pointers during the game.
“Us three definitely need to be leaders because when the games become important for league championships or at State, we defeinitely need to do the same thing,” said Yaeger, who had two three’s himself and 21 total points in the game on the leadership of him, Blake and White in taking charge.
“The game is definitely a bunch of runs, they made their runs and we made ours and you just got to stay mental through it. When they go up, I think they were up 12 at one point, we just had to stay to ourselves and we just had to battle back.”
And just as the game got tight, the physicality of the game was turnt up all the way to 11, as when the score stayed at 60-55 from the 3:29 mark to the 1:24 mark when the Warriors’ Tyler Parr cut it to three with time for one final push.
Lewis said that defense was going to be big as he connected on three-of-four free throws to help seal the 66-60 victory Monday night at home, denying Amity to defeat them on their home-court as they did last season thanks to Clint Hatch who was in attendance Monday from the stands.
“We came here with the mindset that the defense was going to win this game and the very end we made some good plays,” said Lewis. “We got the rebounds and we made our free throws, that’s all we could ask for.”
And as the Pirates sail into Wednesday’s game at Sheridan at 13-1 overall and 3-0 in West Valley League play, the Warriors are off to their own home court Wednesday to host Williamina at 10-3 and 1-2 in league play.
As for seniors on Dayton like Lewis and Howard, the seniors on Amity like Yaeger, Blake and White, January 29 in Amity will mark the last time the seniors from both teams will play each other in this brotherly rivarly one last time before donning the cap-and-gown in June.
The Pirates will look to sweep their rivals for their seniors like they did three years ago, but the Warriors and their seniors will look to split once more when they lace them up on that January night in Amity.
“We just got to keep working for them to comeback and play them at home, it’s going to be a big game because we’re going to come out intense and ready to play,” said Yaeger.
Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!
Photos By Jeremy McDonald