By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– After dropping their first NWAC South Region game led-by seven-foot-one Gervais, Oregon-native Kylor Kelley and Seattle, Washington-native Keiron Goodwin, the Men of The Storm returned to home grounds to redeem their first league loss against Mt. Hood Community College.
Down 8-3, Chemeketa literally stormed back with a 13-3 run to take a 16-11 lead with 11:14 left in the first half, before a 7-0 run by the Saints to take a brief 18-16 with 10:07 left in the game.
Brief being that, outside being the last lead that Mt. Hood would hold in the contest, the Storm went on a 18-2 run to go up 34-20 as McKay-Grad Shaton Daniels took a pass from Glencoe’s Eric McKinstry to put Chemeketa up 14 with 6:23 left in the first half as the defense cooled down a Saint offense that has produced 85.2 points a game.
“It really came down to the defensive-end on that one, offensively we were doing ok but it came down to the defensive stops that won the game for us and we were able to get stops down the stretch,” said Jack Fraizer on the defense stops his team produced in the first-half and were going to produce in the second-half.
But, just as the Storm thought they had momentum firmly in their favor, Mt. Hood answered adversity’s call by closing out the first half with a 21-9 advantage to make the score 43-41 by the halftime break as Chemeketa let their energy down a bit during the final 6:23 of the game; something they’ll need to work on in practice before Saturday’s roadtrip to Linn-Benton.
“We gotta pick the energy up in practice and move on from there. Also its a focus thing too, we gotta stay focused and engaged the whole time. We tend to let up the pressure when we fill like we have a comfortable lead,” said Daniels on the defense.
Daniels, who re-entered the game at 19:03 mark in the second half with the Storm up 49-41 after being taken out at the 4:21 mark of the second half, recalled what his coach told him during the game as he proved a spark in the second half off the bench as he did in the first half.
“We started the game strong and tried to set the tempo the way we want to play but when they started to make a run and get back into the game our defensive intensity dropped,” said Daniels who finished with seven points, three rebounds and three steals in 22 minutes off the bench. “Before I was subbed in coach told me that I need to pick up the energy for us on defense and that’s what I did.
“Coach always gets on us about finishing possessions so second half is where we had to put the hammer down and close the game.”
During the next 8:05 that Daniels was in, that spark on the flames they were hoping for on the fire was almost like dumping gasoline onto the coals as the game didn’t get closer than the four-point, 85-81 differential at the 5:18 mark left in the ball game with the offense and defense went hand-and-hand to help seal the 98-89 victory to hand the Storm their first NWAC South Region League Win of the season.
“It feels good you know, we got to defend home court, that’s our goal this year and it was kind of tough after losing that first league game, we really had to bounce back in this one and get that first win under our belts,” said Fraizer who finished with 10 points, six rebounds, four assist and two steals in the win. “We just got to take it one game at a time, we got to watch film and prepare and come out strong with the game-plan that coaches set out for us.”
Mason Elliot had a team-high 22 points, Stepan Zavydovskyy recorded 13 points, seven rebounds and six blocks in the win and Jamel Merriweather added another 10 points with three assist, two steals and two rebounds.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald