By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– For five Lady Saxon Basketball players, Thursday’s game versus McKay were being honored before the start of their final home basketball of the regular season as they enter the postseason here on Wednesday.
“We all started in Middle School together, so being able to play on this court for so long has been really sentimental for all of us, so it’s really hard to say good bye,” said Josie Ferry. “But we still have playoffs though.”
“Yeah we’ve been playing together as long as I could remember,” adds Morgan Winder. “This is our last night on this court so it’s sad.”
“It’s amazing for this to be our last home game but I’m glad I left my heart on the court, we got playoffs next week,” continued Alexia Hicks.
The Lady Scots, who entered their final game of the season, were looking for their first win of the season and were looking to snap a 44-game losing streak as they took a 14-7 lead entering the second quarter.
South Salem slowly found their offense and turned McKay’s miscues into points as Winder tied the game up at 24 with a pair of free throws with 18.6 seconds left in the game.
But the Scots regained the lead off a Araya Allen basket and got the ball back with a few seconds remaining in the half as Diana Cruz drills a half-court shot to put McKay back up five at 29-24 entering the halftime break.
“Our chemistry in the first half was so great,” said the Scots Justine Coburn. “We were communicating and passing the ball around and just getting open and doing what we should be doing.
“That’s what we should have been doing, but in the second half our chemistry wasn’t there and girls were getting upset, they were trying to do their own thing playing like a hero. We just need to work on our chemistry, playing as a team both halves.”
Slowly, the Saxons turned the slow start to the second half of McKay into points as Winder tied it at 31 following Hicks three that got the game to within two moments earlier. Winder would give South Salem their first lead of the game at the 3:47 mark of the third quarter only to have Leva Mike tie it at 33.
Hicks was open that they’re a second-half team, but knows too that they could come out stronger and more prepared from opening tip as they do coming out for the second half.
“We’re usually a second half team, we usually come out rough in the first half but we know what we need to work on and came out in the second half and do it,” said Hicks. “I think we need to come prepared more, and we weren’t prepared for them to shoot as they did so props for them for doing that. But I think we need to come more prepared and close out harder.”
The Lady Saxons continued to roll and proved too much as they closed out the third quarter on a 13-1 run and used that third quarter momentum to close out the 62-45 victory to wrap up the regular season 12-12 and 10-6 in the Greater Valley Conference.
“I think we adjusted really well, in the first half we had a tough time with what we were doing and what we were doing, but our defense really improved and we were just looking for each other for shots,” said Winder on the game and moving forward. “We’re going to try our best to…we’ve experienced it before, so we’re use to the playoffs and State so we’re going to trying to give it all we got.
For the Scots, who back in the 2013-2014 season were 13-14 and a playoff team have won all but four-games since then over the last four years, have taken steps in the right direction by finding themselves in games against teams like Aloha, Dallas, Gresham and South Salem to build from entering next season.
For Mike, she mentioned how they need to work on team chemistry in the off-season and the learning experiences of learning how to finish off games since they’re getting to the thick of things by being in ballgames.
“Just working in the off-season, we all need to build our team chemistry. We fall in games in the second half like this game, we need to trust each other,” said Mike, who’s Scot’s team saw their offensive output go from 15.8 points a game in 2014-2015 to 31.25 points a game this season. “It’s good because none of us have been in these situations and so we have to learn how to play through it.”