By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–There’s no hiding that Salem Academy is the Gold Standard along with Dayton in Girls Basketball.
Before the game Sydney Brown and Aimee Smith were honored in being selected to be nominated to the All-American Game game, an honor the girls didn’t know about until last night as another coach nominated the guard and post.
But, for the upstart Gervais Cougars who have something in common with the Lady Crusaders in that that not too long ago the senior-heavy Salem Academy-squad were in having a bunch of freshman on the court.
There were some nerves at first as the five freshman and the five seniors took turns against the number two-team in the State in the Crusaders.
“I think we were pretty nervous as a team to go out there and play, but we knew our team goals, we wanted to hold them to 50 points, we wanted to make it to 30 points and I think we did a really good job going towards those goals,” said Mary Davidson. “We played really well in this game.”
Several times in this game, the freshman Davidson found herself matched up against six-foot-one senior Sydney Brown who was one those freshman a few years ago on the Crusaders starting on Varsity, and Davidson reflected on the few moments she went up against one of the States best in the trenches.
“It doesn’t really scare me, she’s tall and she has a few good moves that I might want to steal in the future,” starts Davidson with a laugh as the frosh got a rebound off of Brown during the game. “But it was good to play against her and it definitely challenged me a lot and it was a lot of fun.”
As the game started, it looked like it was going to be like the game’s before as Salem Academy jumped out to a 19-4 lead and led 33-11 at halftime; but as Smith eluded to, starting the second half hasn’t been their friend this season as they came out for the second half.
“Our third quarters haven’t been the greatest lately but we’ve been working really hard, we’ve been trying to pass it and start going through more of our plays instead of just fastbreaking so we can get ready for State and going over more of our plays,” said Smith who had 12 points, six steals and four rebounds in the game.
“But Gervais came out strong, we came out a little bit lax a daisical, but at the end we started to get better and we picked it up.”
The Lady Cats came out aggressive and made a few plays while the Lady Crusaders were working through a few of their plays during that third quarter, winning the quarter 9-5 and cut a 22 point deficit to 35-20 at one point during the third period.
Gervais Head Coach Kyle Buse knows that what the Salem Academy program is today is where he hopes that the Lady Cats can be at eventually as the team used Thursday’s game as a learning experience and fix the imperfections in their game and focus on good things like that third quarter.
“I think that starts tomorrow in practice and then turn it around right for Jefferson on Saturday, we haven’t been home for a month-and-a-half or something,” said Buse. “So get our home game in, taking care of business against Jefferson.
“Taking care against Colton next week as well before we face Blanchet and we restart league and taking care of the teams we should be taking care of is kind of the next step and we can take care of business there, I think we find ourselves comeback and face them and see them at our house and have four third quarters.”
At the end of the day, Gervais was close to their goal of allowing 50 points (they gave up 55) and scoring 30 (they scored 28) as they used this game as a stepping stool for their utlimate goal of battling for a spot at Coos Bay here in a few weeks. Knowing that teams like the Lady Crusaders are there ready to rumble.
“It was really helpful to play against a lot taller team,” said Davidson. “It really helped us, it challenged us a lot more. It challenged us a lot more on offense and how to get the correct passes, how to back off and let them shoot three’s. I think we did a really good job on that.
“Facing them will show us what it’ll be at like if we make it to Coos Bay. It’ll definitely challenged us and showed us that next level especially us as freshman. It showed us what we need to work on offensively as well as defensively, but especially offensively.”
Davidson finished with seven points and one rebound. Senior Daisy Correa was dominated on the rebounding front with seven rebounds to six points. Freshman Lily Welburn nabbed another six rebounds and freshman Katie Hanson had four rebounds with her five points. Senior Natali Henrickx had two steals, two assist and three rebounds.
As a team, Gervais and Salem Academy tied in rebounds at 30 but the Lady Crusaders won the turnover battle with forcing the Lady Cats to 30 turnovers to their nine.