By Jeremy McDonald
ALBANY, Ore.– While McNary denied Sprague an opportunity to become Co-League Champions up the Interstate in Keizer, down in Albany, West Salem looked to build some momentum entering the postseason by trying to get the sour taste of defeat out of their mouths from the Celtics on Friday.
In front of them were the Bulldogs, whom were looking to trying to move up the rankings in terms of play-in positioning while looking for some of that Senior Night magic and hang around with the Titans Wednesday night.
And early on, the scrapping play of the game allowed West Albany to keep within six of West Salem at 16-10 despite Kyle Greeley scoring the first 10 points of the game for the Titans.
“It’s a big test, it’s always important to finish strong we know we can’t win league but we know it’s important to finish strong in a game like that,” said Greeley on the Bulldogs intensity and matching that. “It’s their Senior Night, they have a lot of energy and it’s important to get a win and get some momentum and get a good week of practice in there.”
But soon enough, the Green Machine found their rhythm against the Bulldogs and by halftime the six-point lead was now 48-21. West Salem outscored West Albany 32-11 since the middle part of the opening eight minutes.
It definitely served as one last good tune-up for the postseason for when they have to answer the bell of adversity with a scrappy, aggressive team like the Bulldogs were Wednesday night; or even the crowd that’ll only will continue to get louder and louder as they progress through the postseason.
“It’s extremely difficult when the crowds going, they got momentum it’s their Senior Night. But that’s something we like to focus on in practice as well as in games,” said Zac Bulgin. “We compete a lot, go live a lot. Just trying to get that competitive atmosphere so that when we get into these situations, it’s nothing new for us.
“I thought we did well as a team to weather the storm and came out with a big ‘W’.”
By the third quarter, the bench players slowly start trickling off the bench to check in and get some valuable experience just in time for the playoff push.
There’s no doubt that guys like Greeley, Bulgin, Tyke Thompson who had a monster dunk in the game himself to go along with the handful that Greeley got, there’s no doubt that they wanted to keep playing in the game; but they too know it’s important for the bench to pick up some time too just-in-case they’re called upon starting on February 28.
“It was big. The guys on the bench, we’re not super deep seven guys most nights and we got everyone in tonight in the third quarter I think,” said Greeley on the bench getting some minutes. “So we don’t normally get to do that. but they enjoyed it and it’s good to get their confidence going in the playoffs too. You never know which man is going to get called up next, that ‘Always Ready’-mentality next man-up.
“But it was good for them to get a lot of minutes, I know they enjoyed it.”
The Titans won’t know who they’ll play next until the conclusion of Saturday’s Play-In games when the games are completed. In the meantime however, it’s back to work in their pursuit of the Chiles Center at the University of Portland here in two-weeks.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald