By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It wasn’t necessarily unfamiliar territory for both Blanchet Catholic and Gervais when they met up at Blanchet Thursday night.
The Lady Cavaliers were in the 2/3 game two years ago and were in a unique tiebreaker game with Salem Academy last year for seeding purposes while the Lady Cats battled Colton and Scio in the league playoffs last year to get into the Field of 16 after losing in the third-place game two years ago.
The game was simple, win and your automatically in. Lose, your battling for your season in the third-place game.
Nerves were there yes, but both teams traded baskets and were in a 5-all tie early in the game.
But then, the press of Blanchet challenged Gervais again as it had in their previous two meetings as the Cavs forced the Cougars to turn the ball over more than they wanted as Blanchet were winning on the rebounding front as they led 16-10 after the first quarter.
“That was a really important factor cause we just wanted to just play really aggressive from the beginning,” said Trinity Phipps, who had seven points for the Lady Cavaliers. “Just get out and run and play our game.”
“I think we were a little nervous, we were a little bit in our heads but we were going to a little too fast,” said Gervais’ Katie Hansen who had five points in the game. “But in the second quarter we brought it back.”
Gervais hung around and found some rhythm holding the Lady Cavaliers to six second half points defensively as they found themselves down 22-16 entering the halftime breather.
During the third quarter however, Blanchet regained that first quarter form as they turned the six-point lead to a 35-19 in the opening moments of the fourth quarter.
The Lady Cats then looked like they finally woke up as they cut it to 35-25 after Alyssa Ventura’s three. Ana Coronado pushed the lead to 12 with 2:37 left in the game, but Gervais continued to rally as Hanson cut it to eight with 1:02 left in the game at 37-29.
That would be the closest the Cougars would get as Blanchet’s offense and defense didn’t allow Gervais to get closer than that to punch their tickets to the Field of 16 and a meeting with the Lady Crusaders at Sprague Saturday in the 37-29 victory.
Coronado mentions that hey, the pressure is off of them despite playing for the top-seed knowing that it’ll be a good stepping stone for the Field of 16.
“Obviously we want to get the win against Salem Academy but it’ll be a good game to focus on what we need to do in State,” said Coronado. “We’ll focus on Salem Academy on Saturday and then then after that focus on getting ready for the State Playoffs.”
For the Lady Cats, they’ve been in this spot the last three-years battling for the last league play-off spot. They lost to the Lady Vikings two years ago at Sprague and beat the Lady Loggers off an off-hand game-winning lay-in by Isabel Vasquez that sent them to Dayton last year and they know what to do versus Jefferson to get to the postseason again.
“We’re going to play every quarter the hardest we can,” said Gervais’ Daisy Correa for Saturday’s 3pm game versus the Lady Lions. “We’re going Saturday to work, we’re ready to play our butts off. Playing to get to the next level and so that’s what we’re trying to be and we’re going to try to push ourselves to our limits.”
Correa finished with a team-high six points while Coronado had a game-high 19 points.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald