By Jeremy McDonald
DAYTON, Ore.– It was a good sign of things to come after they wrapped up the Dayton Holiday Tournament with their 59-47 victory over Santiam Christian Saturday night.
In a close battle entering the halftime break only up 29-28, the opening three minutes of the second half set the pace with high energy and flying around that carried them for the remainder of the game, building a ten-point lead by the 5:14 mark of the third quarter.
“It was great because in all of our other games this season, we’ve come out slow. So coming out like we know we could is great,” said Braeden Nowlin, who had 17 points in the win. “We, as a team, played better defense helped and our energy was high. Coach (Ron) Hop told us at half that we have to come out and get it and I mean that’s what we did.”
They maintained that energy into the fourth up as they shut down the Baugher brothers of Josh and Zach as well as Ben Galceran as the once close game had became a nice breathable lead.
“That’s probably the best defensive game we’ve played, myself definitely. We all knew what we had to do, to shut down Zach and Josh and (Ben), to stop those three, we just knew our objectives and we filled it out,” said Lukas Findley. on their shutdown defense in the second half. “I feel like we did pretty good. I did pretty good, Braeden did good on Zach’s brother (Josh) and that’s all we needed to do.”
Now Santiam Christian did make a little bit of a run at the end of the game, taking advantage of the miscues and turnovers created by the Pirates just having fun before a few well-deserved days off.
But the Eagles didn’t get any closer than ten late with Dayton winning their third-straight game after their tough loss at Seaside a few days ago, and for a program that’s been one of the best 3A teams in the State and retooling after graduating five Seniors, it beginning to feel like the Pirates maybe making the turn for the better sitting at 6-2 on the season and number-3 in the State after their 3-2 start.
“Now we know what it feels like to be a top-ranked team. We probably should had a better game against Seaside, we know the lows and the highs and now we just want to keep going high,” said Findley.
Findley had five points in the game. Jaysen Howard had 16 points. Justin Morales and Payton Garrison each had four points each as Dayton will make the trip to Medford to kick off the Cascade Christian tournament on December 27 against Phoenix.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald