By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Western Christian flexed its muscle once more to kickoff the Salem Academy Crusaders New Year’s Invitational when they opened a 21-8 lead on Oregon Episcopal School en route to a 74-46 win.
“We just got to make sure we keep the tempo up. I mean when we slow down, we don’t play good we got to play fast and that’s how Western plays and that’s all we got to do,” said Alex Nicoli. “It was a great team win and looking forward to the next one.”
Nicoli hit two three’s in the second quarter to get the Pioneers lead to the 20s at 31-10 then 34-10 and added another in the third as Western Christian didn’t see their lead dip below 17 points for the remainder of the game as the junior finished with 19 points.
And though the pace did seem to slow uncharacteristically for a team that has cracked 80 points seven times in their first 10 games, their 74 points does seem to be lower than normal. But
“We just got to make sure we’re playing together, keep up the tempo, keep passing and no matter who we’re playing, we’ll be ready,” said Nicoli.
Payton Richardson finished with 18. Johnny Williams added 20.
The Pioneers play again at 1:30pm in the Main Gym at Salem Academy.
In the girls game, Annika Hess hit two big free throws to hand Western Christian girls a brief 39-37 lead late versus Portland Christian, but Madeline DeLucia hit a big three to hand the Royals a 40-39 lead.
The Lady Pioneers had one last chance with a second left in the game for a possible game winner, but Hess’ shot fell short as Western Christian plays at 4:30pm in the Auxiliary Gym at Salem Academy.