By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– For much of the first half, it was a back-and-forth battle of mini-runs as neither Salem Academy or Blanchet Catholic could stay in front long enough without the other making an run.
“I think we got RJ (Veliz) and (Mike) Bashaw to take shots that we wanted them to take a lot,” said the Crusaders Gabe Cunas. “We practiced a lot on game-planning that they were uncomfortable and taking shots in that they didn’t wanted.”
Late in the first half however, as PacWest Player of the Year in Veliz and teammate Bashaw were trying to find their shots, it was Diego Torres who stepped up big for the Cavailers as he hit two big three-pointers and Veliz hit a lay-in right before the buzzer that gave Blanchet a 30-22 lead on Salem Academy.
“We just wanted to get out there and we wanted to come off and get started on defense and those two big three’s…I felt like that was a big turning point. We were stuck and I felt like that was a big turning point and one of the biggest changes in the game because of those two three’s,” said Torres.
And it sure was as the Cavs took off from there and never looked back, outscoring the Crusaders 41-28 in the second half for the 71-50 victory and the PacWest Championship as they enter the postseason as the number four seed in 3A.
“We found out that they were being lazy on defense so we pushed it and we took off from there and we just wanted to run the floor and that’s our game,” said Torres who finished with 12 points in the win and was named to the Honorable Mention team. “We can carry this because this is a big game for us because we want to come as a unit and I’ve been out a couple of games but we want to come as a unit and work together.
“Just work hard and just keep pushing it because we feel like we can take it all this year. We just feel humbled to be in every situation we get because we feel very lucky.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald