Salem Academy Answers Gervais Girls Physicality In 45-24 Victory

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.

By the end of the first quarter, Katie Hansen missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied the game at nine as the Lady Crusaders led 9-6 with the physicality that they didn’t show as much as they did in their first meeting.
“We were trying to play hard at the end, it was more for us then anybody else. We were just playing with the intensity that we wanted to play with and for the first quarter it worked,” laughed and smiled the Lady Cats Natali Hernchix.
Salem Academy’s Grace Brown pointed to how much the mixture of freshmen and seniors on Gervais’ squad came together since their first meeting on January 11 in Salem as themselves on the Crusaders side had to tail it in entering the second quarter.
“They definitely came out developed, because throughout the season you get to play into your role, figure out the chemistry of your team and Gervais figured that out and they were not afraid of us,” said Brown who had six points, five rebounds and three steals in the win. “And they came out to play in that first quarter and after the first quarter.
“It was rough but after the first quarter we were like, ‘ok we got to cool down and use our family ties’ because we’re basically a family, we’ve known each other for years and so just using our chemistry and using that physicality and our height and everything that God has given us and use it effectively.”
Kirsten Koehnke (12) and Natali Hernchix (14) battling for the ball in Thursday’s game (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

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.

Sydney Brown going up for one of her two blocks in the win (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

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.”

Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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