By Jeremy McDonald
LEBANON, Ore.– It’s safe to say that the first quarter was just the first quarter.
A slow start to the game yes, but Western Mennonite led 17-10 over East Linn Christian Academy Monday night on the road looking for a spark.
They did indeed found a spark and just like jump-cables to a Hemi-Engine, the Pioneers of the frontier woke up in the second quarter.
“We had a slow start, so just coming out fast and getting steals and stuff and defense really helped alot the rest of the game,” said Payton Richardson on the spark that they needed and found.
By the end of the second eight-minutes that seven point lead exploded to 21 points by the halftime lead as they lead the Eagles 43-22 entering the locker room for the 10-minute well-deserved breather.
“It’s just the team-work, just working together. Swinging the ball around to open guys, finding the hot hand, that’s what got us the huge lead,” adds Alex Nicoli on the second quarter. “We just got to play together how Western Mennonite plays.”
Their press and their defense held East Linn Christian to 21 total points in the second half as their offense scored 30. Nicoli had a team-high 19 points, Richardson added another 17 points as Johnny Williams (15 points) and Cade Nofziger (11 points) joined them as Western Mennonite ballers who recorded double-digits in scoring with eight Pionners recording points in the 73-43 win on the road for their eight-straight win since league starting and since their last loss on December 30, 2017.
But, their smallest margin of victory during this winning streak is six points to Santiam in their 49-43 win over the Wolverines in Mill City on January 9, and they know they need to come out stronger against them when the two teams meet at Western Mennonite Wednesday night.
“A lot of pressure on our press to start the game because today our press was kind of slow a little bit and last time against Santiam, we didn’t have a really good press,” starts Richardson. “But if we come out strong and pressuring them, get into their heads right off the bat, then we’ll be good.”