By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– On paper they were a collective 20-2 and for the first quarter-plus it had all the workings of two teams that could have the game coming down to the closing seconds of the game between 2A’s Western Christian and 3A’s Umatilla.
Both sides were trading blows with the Vikings hold a slight lead at 19-18 in the second quarter with the question begging that something has to give and who was going to have that one big run?
That’s answer came fast and quick by the Pioneers, and by the halftime break they led 42-21 on Umatilla in their 75-38 win Friday afternoon.
Known for their shooting with their guards, it was post Ethan Halgren that shined in the second quarter with all 12 of his first half points coming in the second quarter to complement the shooting by Keaton Hull and Johnny Williams to overcome what may have seemed like a slow start out of the gate.
“We got to keep the energy up on both sides of the court because for the first half we were a little slow, both sides of the floor. But we transitied a little bit and halftime and that’s what changed the game for us,” said Halgren who finished with 24 points in the win.
“We just picked up our defense and we got it inside. Usually we try to come out of the gate shooting three’s and when we make them, it helps a lot but when we’re missing them we just got to try to take it easy and get it inside,” adds Williams on the inside-out game. “Ethan was huge for us today, I just gave it to him on the inside and he beat his guy every time it seemed like. So we just kept going inside and sure enough the outside showed up and we started hitting three’s.”
Entering the second half, the Pios didn’t lay off the gas pedal as their defense held the Viks to ten third quarter points to keep the lead over 20 at 55-31 to put the exclamation point on Western Christian’s 11th win of the season.
And with either Amity or De La Salle North Catholic Saturday in the White Bracket Championship, the Pioneers will look to continue their roll at 1:30pm.
“We played De La Salle in a jamboree earlier this year and we got them by 10, so I’m sure they’ll want to beat us and play well and just get it out there and do what they do,” said Williams who finished with 17. “They’re a really good team, they’re really skilled offensively. But so are we so we’re just going to go out and come out swinging.”
Umatilla’s Andrew Earl finished with 13 points and Uriel Garcia added another 12.