By Jeremy McDonald
ST. PAUL, Ore.– They walked out to chants of “SPH” and played with chants of “Buckaroo Power” during the fourth quarter, the St. Paul boys were making a rally for the ages against Santiam.
At halftime, the lead was 33-19 Wolverins as Santiam answered a 8-1 run by the Buckaroos to start the game with a 32-11 advantage to close out the first half.
The lead was pushed out a touch more to start the third quarter, but that’s when Holden Smith and Campbell Smith helped to build some momentum in the third quarter with five points from Campbell, eight from Holden and another five from Jaidyn Jackson in the quarter to cut the 14 point deficit to 52-44 entering the fourth quarter. Jackson drilled a three at the buzzer to get the deficit to under 10 entering the final eight minutes.
As they came out to the crowd chanting behind them, Smith knew it was awesome to hear the fanbase supporting them as the Buckaroos on the court looking to hand the Wolverines just their fourth loss of the season with Jonah Downey playing limited time due to an ankle injury suffered against Western Mennonite this past Wednesday.
“It was something else, it really helped out. We really appreicate all those guys who do that,” said Holden Smith, who scored 15 points Monday night. “It’s something else and as a player, it makes you feel good and it makes you want to go out there and play for your community and play for your fans and give it all you got every night. So it’s really something special.”
Slowly, the Wolverines re-gained their composure as Josh Fawcett went three-for-four from the free throw line to increase the lead back up to 57-52 with 4:17 left in the game and Jordan Lanham converted and ‘And-One’ to push the lead back up to eight almost 45 seconds left in the game up 60-52.
“In important times like this, you got to make them,” said Fawcett, who finished the game with 19 points.
Stunned, St. Paul kept fighting, trying to use the remaining 3:29 left on the clock after Lanham’s And-One to make one last push for the lead.
But, as time trickled to triple-zeros and they were walking off the court in anger and disbelief of working that hard to come up short like that.
“We fought hard the whole time, we just kind knew what we needed to do and we just had to execute and stay calm and we knew those shot will start falling and we just played hard with what we can control,” said Holden Smith. “That’s what we did, hitting a few shots and it wasn’t how we would like to have ended but I liked how we played.
“Us guys, we’ve been playing together since middle school, we’re all friends and it’s kind of a speical bond that we got. We like playing with each other and with in some way it clicks and we really enjoy it.
With one game left in the season, against East Linn Christian Academy, they got to hope the Eagles can beat Regis Tuesday and the Bucks to beat East Linn Christian Academy to force a hypothetical 5-7 league tie with the Rams and things will get interesting with tie-breakers as both St. Paul and Regis split the season series.
As for Santiam, it’s off to Kennedy and a win over the Trojans will help guarantee themselves as the number two team in league entering the league playoffs next week while a loss would put them third entering the league postseason.
“It felt good because we got one more win, league playoffs for sure, now we’re trying to get second in league,” said Jesse Sendlinger, who added eight points in the game. “Just practice as you play. just put 100-percent into it every day and work on our defense.”
Campbell Smith finished with a team-high 18 points, Rawley Koch had seven for the Buckaroos.. Collin Thurston had 15 points from the Wolverines as Lanham finished with eight points in the win.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald