By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Following their tough loss to Cascade that saw Stayton leading their rival by two at the halftime break, the Lady Eagles had to gear up for another physical challenge in facing a tough Yamhill-Carlton team they squeaked by 47-44 on January 23 on the road.
Early on, the defensive slugfest resulted in a 13-9 Stayton lead as neither offense could get itself going in the opening 16 minutes.
“The physicality was there, they’re super physical (and) they’re a good team,” said Lexi Smart on the physicality of the game and started about their defense. “It was a super competitive game, we went in confident and we really pride ourselves on our defense.”
The six-foot senior help sparked the defense her defense play alongside Alexa Bender to start the second half as they got a hand on the ball quicker than the Lady Tigers Megan Gaibler and Sadie Horne to feed out to their offense.
And it goes back to the idea of the pride in their defense.
We pride ourselves on our defense, so it was nice, it felt really good when it comes together and brings out on the offensive end after we get all that going,” said Smart.
It worked too. Marri Martinez scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half and KJ Nyquist added nine of her team-high 18 points in the second half after a nine-point first half.
“Just working hard and just doing everything we can that we can control really helped us boost our momentum offensively,” said the sophomore Nyquist as they slowly pulled away for the 41-28 victory Wednesday.
The win pushes Stayton to 15-6 overall and 5-3 in Oregon West Conference-play and in a three-way tie with Newport and North Marion for second-place after the Lady Cubs loss to Cascade and the Lady Huskies win over Philomath.
And the Eagles know all too well how talented North Marion is and it’ll be a great test for Stayton with the final two games of the season that’ll end Tuesday at Newport against the Cubs to close out the season.
“We got two practices to prepare and we’re going to work really hard and focus and get what we need to get done,” said Nyquist on the task ahead with the Lady Huskies.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald