By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– As the first half of league wrapped up with the guys completing the first-loop 5-0 with their 63-51 victory over Newport to break above .500 for the first-time this season as they move up to 12th in the OSAA and 10-9 overall thanks to their six-game winning streak, the Lady Eagles too look to improve upon their fifth-spot in the 4A rankings and close out the first half of Oregon West Conference play with a 4-1 record and be in a tie with Cascade on-top of the OWC conference.
Though they struggled with finding their shot and having Marri Martinez out with fouls as the foul total was against them for much of the game, the Lady Eagles challenged the Lady Cubs to break out of their zone-like defense to come after them entering the final quarter with Stayton leading 22-19 by standing on the top of the key and taking their time.
Some could say it’s a dumb decision to milk the clock and that Oregon should put in a shot-clock because of it, but for the Lady Eagles who have done it once before versus Astoria up double-digits and trying a way not to run away with the game score-wise, it helped them enter the fourth as they hoped their shots will fall.
But, Newport changed up their defense and pressured the Lady Eagles into turnovers as they took a 27-24 lead with Martinez rebounding a missed front-end of an one-and-one with 19.7 seconds left as Head Coach Darren Shryock called timeout looking for that tying shot to force overtime if not trying to force a quick turnover for the win.
“It was really was frustrating, we didn’t play like we usually play the way we usually do and I think that frustration didn’t help us either,” said Alexa Bender who scored six points in the game. “We need to think positive and we didn’t, we just let it fall a part.
“I think we had a good talk afterwards and I think we’re going to get after it at practice and get after it on Friday.”
Coming out of the timeout, they passed around with the Lady Cubs in their faces as Alli Nyquist shoots a contested three-pointer that barley bounces off the front-end of the rim as Martinez rebounds it and goes up at the buzzer in hopes of an And-One to force Overtime.
The call didn’t come as the buzzer rang as Newport ends the first-half of league tied with the Lady Cougars on top of the OWC standings and Stayton falls to 3-2 and sits in third-place in league.
Faced with probably their toughest game of the season, the question becomes how they respond as they did when they started the season 1-3? Can they respond similarly as they did with their ten-game winning streak in a league that still bolsters all-six teams in the Top 15?
It all starts with improving upon what they can improve on entering Thursday’s practice in preparation to travel to Philomath Friday night to start the second-half of league play.
“It was a tough one but we’re going to work hard in practice and we’re going to bounce back,” said KJ Nyquist, who led the Lady Eagles with seven points. “It just gives us more motivation to work harder in practice and in games and play hard all around.”
Newport’s Madison Hargett had 13 of the Lady Cubs 27 points, with Megan Wagner adding another six as the Cubs open the second half of league versus North Marion at Newport.
Alli Nyquist had six points and Martinez had another five for Stayton.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald