By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– There’s one thing you can’t take away from this team and that you can’t rule them out.
And when you got that rowdy home crowd coming down from the stands that’s feeding and supporting their boys on the court, Chemawa slowly came back from 11-points down to make it a one with 1:41 left in the game.
Three minutes earlier, the Braves found themselves down 11 with a little under five to play with Waldport having most of the momentum on their side after coming out of the halftime break on fire and quickly took a double-digit lead on the host squad.
But it seemed as if the Luck of the Irish slowly went into the favor of Chemawa at about the 4:44 mark however as shots began to fall to match the intensity that the defense was bringing. Elijah Kakruk scored on back-to-back lay-ins helped get the Braves to within five with 4:29 left in the game.
Devonte Beach, who was playing sound defense and dove after a loose ball was called for the foul going after the ball that put Waldport into the bonus.
The Irish made both free throws.
Beach then makes a three that was waved off to boo’s from the crowd. only to see the Junior answer back with a no question three-pointer to cheers from the home crowd to get the Braves back to within four.
“We were just trying to get the offense going and trying to get to the open man and get up an open shot, an open look,” said Beach who had nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Clement Afterbuffalo missed a shot by the hoop but Chemawa found a way to retain possession of the ball.
Eventually the ball got passed around in their Motion Offense back to Beach, looking for an open shot. After waiting a moment or two and looking to see what he can do with the moving pieces around him, put up a Stephen Curry-like three that nearly went in as he was fouled.
Beach made all three to make it a one-point ball game at 44-43 with 1:41 left in the game. You would have thought that it was a League Playoff, League Championship game instead of a preseason contest with how invested both sides were.
And why wouldn’t you be? Chemawa was looking for their first three-game winning streak since they won six-in-a-row between December 11, 2015 through January 14, 2016. Waldport was looking for their second win of the season.
Afterbuffalo gets a steal, couldn’t land the dagger as the Irish returned the rebound for a lay-in and Waldport increased their lead to 48-43 before Afterbuffalo made it into a three-point game with 17.8 seconds remaining with a pair of free throws.
Waldport iced the game however on free throws after Afterbuffalo’s free throws to spoil the Braves Three-game winning streak bid as Chemawa wrapped up their back-to-back games following their 82-41 win over Culver Thursday night.
With the Braves going on Winter Break on Wednesday, they have two more games against Jefferson and Sheridan to end 2018 right and comeback in 2019 with some positive mojo.
“I liked it a lot because defense started off late in the first half and in the second half we woke up a little bit,” said Afterbuffalo, who had 12 points in Friday’s game. “We needed to pass more, cut the ball more and set better screens. Just come back and start off hot.”
Kakaruk had 10 points, Francisco Black had five, Davey Hogan and Trajan Carlos each had two points each.