By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– West Salem slowly saw their once double-digit lead trickle down to three as McKay’s Danica Cheremnov got the Lady Scots a one-possession game at 36-33 with 2:34 left in the third quarter of both squads Mountain Valley Conference-opener Tuesday evening.
It seemed as if throughout the game Tuesday that the Lady Titans couldn’t shake McKay who at one point had the game down to one in the second quarter at 21-20 as the Scots took advantage of the game plan designed by their first-year Head Coach.
“Oh we were doing great. We were running everything that we wanted too. We watched film on them, we knew what they were going to do,” said Scots Head Coach Jim White. “We didn’t have the height to guard them, but we had a good defensive plan against them. At times it was very hard, but we couldn’t sustain it for four quarters.”
At 5-5 entering league, McKay have already won more games than they had in the last four years combined (four wins). But, as they got it down to three, the press of West Salem came back around as Maddie Bertsch went off for 11 third quarter points to help swing momentum back in favor of the Titans entering the fourth quarter.
“We started off slow and coming into a game like this, we just need to set the tone which we didn’t,” said Maddie Bertsch with West leading 43-33 by quarters end. “It was good that we came back and got into our press and it worked really well for us. Everyone was working hard, that’s how we got back into that and got that lead.”
The West Salem press continued to raise havoc on the McKay into the fourth quarter with the Titans icing the 67-41 win with a 24-8 quarter.
Bertsch finished with a game-high 37 points in the win with 22 of her points coming in the second half with the Titans feeding the five-eleven Senior constantly off the turnover transition game. At 5-6 overall, Bertsch mentioned how she feels like this team is ready to make some noise this season after their 10-16, first-round exit last season.
“We’re setting a presence this year. I think people know we’re going ot be good, but we’re kind of an underdog. Coming off of last year, not the best season but it was great to come back in that second half to show what we can do, anything to help this team,” said Bertsch. “Our coaches, they’re pushing us every single day. Not ever giving us a break and it’s really paying off, so we just got to continue to grind like that.”
The Lady Scots, who are still going through the growing pains of playing a full 32 minute game with a few glimpses of the ‘Old McKay Way’ of trying to do too much by themselves, have their coaches confidence in that they were right there against a good team like West Salem.
“They’re long and lanky, they’re good. We don’t have any height like they got, but once we made a bad pass we just kind of give up. We got to learn how to compete all four quarters against a team like that,” said White with McKay traveling to Bend Friday. “That’s probably the best team we’ve played this year.
“We’ve hung with them, but it’s the middle third quarter/fourth quarter, we got down a little bit. We had a couple of lapses and we just got to play all the way through.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald