By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Marri Martinez came in off the bench in the fourth quarter with four fouls against her as Stayton were looking for a way to walk away from this ugly first game of the year against Seaside Wednesday evening with the Lady Eagles down 32-29 late to the Seagulls.
“It was hard, I felt we scrambled a little bit,” said Martinez. “But once we were like, ‘ok, we need to lock down. Hands down, no fouls’. I think we got it together and just played our game.”
Best way to describe the 43-36 win was anything but easy. Fouls were an issue during the first half as Stayton committed seven fouls during the opening eight minutes but would settle their nerves a little in the second quarter and into the second half.
Martinez, the only Eagle in foul trouble during the Season opener, committed her fourth foul early in the third quarter that sat the Senior for the majority of the third stanza and into the fourth quarter, trying to save her offensive output and rebounding ability for the final quarter. Martinez had 12 first half points and two in the third quarter.
Jitters were there as some turnovers were committed, but it was what it was as Stayton were finding ways to curve the Seagull Freshman Lilli Taylor and the Seaside presence to give themselves a chance down the stretch down 32-29 in the closing minutes of the game.
“We’re a very new team, we’ve lost two very important pieces (from last season). But we’re just trying to find our identity and who we are as a team and a lot of first-game jitters as well,” said KJ Nyquist, who scored eight of her 14 points in the third quarter.
And with Martinez back on the court, it seemed like she pumped more energy back into her Stayton squad as back-to-back buckets handed the Eagles a brief 33-32 lead before a Taylor basket and a Martinez free throw tied the game at 34.
“It felt really good, I think we were all waiting for ‘who’s going to go right now? Who’s going to step up?’ and so I took initiative and stepped up. After that, it seemed like we knew what we were doing, so everyone started contributing,” said Martinez on providing that spark for her team.
Stayton did have one crack at winning the game in regulation following a hard-fought steal from Nyquist that led immediately into a timeout, but some confusion in executing the play coming out of that timeout resulted in a rush shot in hopes to win the game in regulation.
The shot was no good, but Stayton opened overtime with four straight points by Martinez. Genevieve Frith scored the next two and Nyquist added another three in the overtime period to help lift the Lady Eagles to their first win of the season.
But with this first game down, they have a few things to straighten out for Friday’s game at Central. The Lady Panthers too went to overtime Wednesday versus Churchill, but lost in the waning seconds to the Lancers 41-37.
And though their next opponent lost a tough, close battle, it doesn’t mean they’ll have to overlook them anymore than they did with Seaside Wednesday.
“Central’s a good team, we just have to buckle down in practice and work really hard for Friday,” said Nyquist.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald