By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.– If defense breeds Championships, then teams across the State are in for a wild ride when it’s time to take on Kennedy.
Looking for their third 2A State Championship Title in four years, the Trojans defense has allowed 33.3 points through it’s perfect 10-0 start following their 62-35 win over Gervais Wednesday night on the road.
But the Cougars, who have experienced against similar tough teams like Salem Academy and Blanchet Catholic last year, weren’t going down without a fight. Gervais made runs with their sophomore-nucleus, going from 11-3 early in the game to 13-8 after a timeout as they challenged Kennedy looking for their sixth-straight win.
They went up for rebounds, trying to work around the height and strength of Sophia Carley while trying to account for the shooting ability of Kalyssa Kleinschmit. Kleinschmit had 17 first half points to Carley’s six of her 20 points in the first half.
“We just put in all of our effort and we had a little hard time, but it was more communication. We could have done better, but we did really great today,” said the Cougars Celi Vasquez, who had ten points in the game. “It’s just communication, if we would have done more communication I felt like it would have been a way better game.”
Entering the third quarter, Gervais saw Vasquez and Lilly Welburn help bring them to 36-23 early in the third in hopes for a late game rally. But the suffocating defense cause the Cougars to turn the ball over and Carley made them pay on the offensive front with 12 third quarter points as the Trojan lead ballooned close to 20 by quarters end.
“That’s what we’re pretty much known for is our defense,” said Kleinschmit. “I mean it’s how we stop the other team, it’s how we get turnovers and get into our transition where we’re really good.”
The Kennedy defense held Gervais to 11 points in the third quarter and their offense to just their second sub-50 point total for just the second time this season with 35 in the Cougars seven games.
Friday’s game for each team will provide another test. For the Trojans, it’s a tough challenge against Oakland who were handed their first loss in eight games Wednesday to Coquille whereas Scio awaits Gervais at the Willamina tournament.
“We’re going to keep practicing hard, playing like we’ve been playing and we’re going to be focusing on our defenses a lot and just talking,” said Kleinschmit as they prepare for the Oakers on the road.
For the young nucleus at Gervais with five sophomores seeing action Wednesday, the question is going to become how are they going to respond after this exhausting effort for the Lady Loggers Friday and bounce back after seeing their five-game winning streak snapped. And that’s by settling down and doing what they do best.
“We just got to go play our game against Scio and again. Just keep bringing it back and just play our game again,” said the Cougars Katie Hansen, who had four points in the game.
Welburn had six points, Jasmine Fernandez had five points for Gervais. Ellie Cantu and Clarissa Traeger each had six points each for Kennedy.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald