By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.–Gervais made it a mission in preparation for Thursday’s game versus Salem Academy, they wanted to show they belong in the Field of 16 and Coos Bay talks when they laced it up for the game.
Miscues with turnovers by Gervais, who committed 21 of them in the game, and missed opportunities at the free throw line early in the second quarter could have made a 14-9 game into possibly a one-possession game, but the Crusaders used the opportunity to turn that 9-6 advantage to a 25-10 lead early in the third quarter.
The Lady Cats continued their intensity through the valley as they cut the lead to 25-14 and 30-16 after a pair Karina Ramos’ Free throws and hit a three following Sydney Brown’s lay-in to make it 34-19.
“Well at halftime, coach gave us a really good talk about just pushing through adversity and these games are going to prepare us for games down the road and the physicality that we are going to see later down the road and Gervais just did a great job bringing it,” said Lindsey Larsen as the Cougars held them to 31.5-percent from the field and 28.6-percent from the field in the second half.
“It felt really good to see the ball finally going through the hoop and our press started working and things like that,” Larsen added.
Larsen finished with two points, one steal and three of the Lady Crusaders 35 rebounds. Sydney Brown led the way with 15 rebounds in her 14 point, 15 rebound double-double performance.
By quarter’s end, with five straight by Koehnke as the junior finished with eight points, Salem Academy led 39-19 and held a 30-13 advantage since that first quarter as Gervais’ offense scored it’s highest-offensive output of the game with nine in the third quarter.
“We just needed to battle through it and we did our best, I guess that’s all we could ask for,” starts Henrickx who finished the game with five rebounds and two steals.
The Gervais defense didn’t allow Salem Academy to score in the fourth quarter until the 2:44 mark of the fourth off of Sydney Brown’s free throws with the Crusaders scoring six fourth quarter points to the Lady Cats five-points with the relentless Gervais defense slowing them down in the 45-24 victory.
The 45 points allowed, is the lowest Salem Academy scored since December 30 against Dayton (34-33 loss) and is their lowest point total in PacWest-play and just the second-time they’ve scored under 50 in league (46-15 against Scio last Friday).
“It was a great team game. We battled every possession for rebounds. Played solid defense,” said Gervais Head Coach Kyle Buse. “Holding them to 45 points is an accomplishment. I was happy with our girls tonight. Should make for a good game on Saturday.”
“Honestly, just taking that they’re so athletic, it’s crazy,” adds Henrickx with a laugh and a smile again. “But we just realized that the mistakes that we make against them, we need to improve upon them and that’ll help us against other teams that weren’t the number one-team in the State.”
With the Crusaders, who have been adding a few more plays to their playbook this season, the addition to a challenging game in preparation for that Coos Bay push and that State Championship push as well, seeing a physical game with Jefferson and Colton to close out the regular season left gives them that extra push for what is to come.
“We definitely need all the practice games for State,” laughed Grace Brown. “And so I’m glad Gervais brought their game to us, we need to see more physical teams like that because that’s what State is going to look like with Dayton, Blanchet and all the other teams that we might see.
“Rainier, it’s going to be physical games and we’re going to have to come physical and come prepared and be the better team.”
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald