By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– With Lincoln and North Salem Boys Basketball opening the Capital City Classic Tuesday afternoon at Willamette University, there was a feeling that being the opening game had some weight to it in being the appetizer for the rest of the tournament.
And the Cardinals stepped up big in the first half with winning the rebounding advantage and converting into their high-tempo, three-point offense as Lincoln made five of their three-pointers in the first half to build a 31-21 lead on the Vikings in Tuesday’s 64-54 win.
“We just tried to come out and play our pace and control the pace. We were multi-focused on keeping them out of the paint (as well) because all of their points in the first half came from there,” said Lincoln’s Ben Jeffers. “We just got to get back into the gym and get better. We got practice tomorrow, get in there and get some shots off because that’s one of our most important things. It’s what we’re best at, shooting.”
North Salem, won was coming off a 66-52 Mid-Willamette Conference win over Dallas Monday night at home, too had their opportunities to make some damage in the first half. But their similar shots weren’t falling as their counterparts as the back-end of the back-to-back seem to be catching up with the Vikings.
“It’s always unfortunate when their shots are just falling,” said North Salem Zac Sullivan. “I mean they got a lot of screens and a lot of looks in the first half. It sucks when our shots aren’t falling. We’re getting looks to Braden (Vasquez) and Tameron (Hampton) and they’re not going in. So the demeanor kind of dropped when they’re taking their shots and we’re taking the same shots and they’re not falling.
Sullivan, who started the game, missed the final few minutes of the first half after taking a knee to the thigh before returning in the second half; the Vikings however ended the first half on a 6-0 run that included going 4-for-5 from the charity stripe to bring the score to 31-27 at the halftime break.
North Salem got the game to within one early in the third quarter, but Jeffers hit three of his six three-pointers all in succession and added a fourth to build a 45-34 lead mid-third quarter.
“We’re a really good shooting team and we really came out in the second half and we were hitting. We knew we could shoot like that,” said Jeffers who finished with 19 points on the day.
The Vikings got it down to 47-43 after a Braden Vasquez lay-in, but Jeffers would hit a three to make sure momentum stayed in favor of Lincoln. The Cardinals Daniel Kovalev added another 16 points in the win.
Pharov Swaink had 13 points, Vasquez contributed 11 points and Hampton added another 10 for North Salem.
Both teams will have a rest day Wednesday before entering their second game of the five-day marathon tournament, Lincoln in the evening at 7:30pm and the Vikings in the morning at 11:30am with North Salem looking to polish off a few edges of their game for their second game in the tournament.
“Off-the-ball, our off-the-ball communication was terrible and we had bad reinforcement on help-side on their man and every back door cut they ran was open,” said Sullivan. “On-ball communication for screens, we ‘re not suppose to switch but we need to switch on maybe eight-, nine screens today. So little things like that.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald