By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– With four returners, Dallas has a lot of work ahead of them if they hope to get back to the Elite 8.
And what a good solid practice round by going through a tournament to blitz and challenge the new faces than putting them through the ringer of a day-long tournament for their second, third and fourth games of the season right?
The season before set a standard for the Lady Dragons as they went onto the road to defeat Crater, then Marist Catholic to get to the Elite 8 before bowing out in two games in the big show.
And though they’ve lost girls like Tristan Savage, Makayli Laizure and Emily May, the seniors this year like a Maggie Blair would love to get back to that point and perhaps bring home a trophy for their hard work this season.
“Last year, the big thing is we need to have a good attitude and positive encouraging each other. Even when were down, just encouraging then we’re going to do good and keep building,” said Blair.
They don’t want to use the ‘Youth’-card like it’s a bad thing and that it’s going to hurt them, not at all. With how they battled in a way that’s almost like they’re not afraid of the moment.
Mistakes are there yes, but they got back to the McKay Tournament game again in the Gold Bracket against a South Eugene squad that they played and beaten twice already.
“We definitely don’t lack heart. We all love each other a ton…it’s awesome that we’re all fighters,” said Blair.
Ruby Earhart, who continues the sporting linage of Earhart’s going through Dallas High School as she enters her freshman year this Fall, was one of the loudest girls on the bench and stepped up big during the tournament. The Axes open the Championship bout by taking the first set 25-16 even though she knows she and the other new faces have big shoes to fill this season.
“I didn’t know what to expect since we lost a lot of girls, but we had a large incoming team,” said Earhart. “So I think the Varsity team around now is going to help us be very successful this year. It’s just the beginning of the season so I’m interested to see how things go.”
The second set of the best-of-three showdown, both teams did trade blows, but South Eugene made sure they weren’t going to lose again to Dallas as they held off the Lady Dragons 25-22.
With league start Thursday with a doubleheader of Silverton (4pm) and Central (5pm), gaining and building some confidence leading up to the Foxes and Panthers was nonetheless important for a team picking up experience in each set.
“Beating Lebanon last week was really good for us to see where we stand right now and get us some confidence now going into the rest of league that we can go after every team as hard as we can and know we can compete,” said Earhart. “There’s always improvements to be made, I think just playing together until the very last point.
“We’ve done very well of that today, but starting hard and finishing hard every game its going to be a lot easier that way.”