By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–Clatskanie wanted to push tempo early and Salem Academy accepted that challenge and traded blows with the Tigers in a shootout of a first-half.
Neither team, who are both equally as young, could sustain a lead. For the Crusaders, Gabe Cuanas said it was because of their mentality.
“It was very fast-paced, they wanted to get up and run a lot and we were trying to match that,” said Cuanas who scored seven of his 10 points in the first half. “I think we lack the little bit of intensity there and so we just held on, fell behind a little bit. But in the second half, we got it going more.
“I think it’s the thing we need to work on and the thing we didn’t do well was taking care of the ball and just being calm with that intensity and that frustration in collecting ourselves because there were times where we got within one-or-two and just lost it because of mental errors. So I think that’s the main thing is to focus mentally.”
Nonetheless, Salem Academy found themselves down 30-26 at the halftime break.
But, Clatskanie would capitalize on the mental miscues of the Crusaders to build a steady lead of between six to ten points as Salem Academy could not find answer to respond as the game entered the fourth with the Tigers up 45-39 lead.
The Crusaders found a way however to make the game just as interesting as it entered its final eight minutes.
A Cole Hardy three and a Hayden Wakefield duece helped in a run to cut it to 47-46 and sparked Salem Academy as they were in the opening eight minutes.
“Coach actually reminded us a lot, ‘hey keep your heads in it. Stay focus’ and hopefully we’ll get a win,” said Wakefield who finished with 21 points in the game. “We got close, but we just came up short. We’ll get it next game.”
Late in the game, the Crusaders found themselves a shot away from tying the game if not take the lead, but couldn’t land it as Wakefield and Bennet Bos missed their three-pointers that could’ve tied the game in the 57-54 defeat Monday night.
“Definitely a good test but like I said, we got to capitalize on those and hopefully get the dub,” said Wakefield.
Frustrations are there of course, six of their eight losses were of 10 points or less, but they too serve as a learning experience moving forward for a possible deep playoff run again in 2018.
“These games do kind of get to us a little bit and we got a game tomorrow against Jefferson and I think we just got to take that and learn that in those situations we can take care of the ball because we’ve done it in the whole game and just kind of not dwelling on the game,” said Cuanas. “Just getting better from it. Working in practices and matching that intensity in practices.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald