By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Salem Academy certainly weren’t going away without a fight.
After Cole Hardy got the Crusaders to within three of Horizon Christian Monday afternoon at the Yoda MLK High School Showcase, the Hawks pushed their lead to 51-43 on a 4-0 run with a little over five minutes to play.
The Salem Academy defense was doing great, but their offense wasn’t able to produce as it looked like the Tualatin team was going to pull away for good.
The Crusaders remembered what happened to them here, at Corban University last year and didn’t want a repeat performance again this year as they went to work.
“We just wanted to win the game. It was a close game and I think we just couldn’t take it anymore and we wanted to win,” said Hunter Schwenke.
Schwenke hit a monster three to make it 51-47 with 3:28 left in the game after Cole Hardy went 1-for-2 at the line and had a put-back to make it a 51-49 Hawks lead a minute later.
But Horizon Christian answered and pushed their lead back to four only to see Hardy hit another free throw and Salem Academy hitting another put-back, this time coming from ‘The Bos’ in Bennett Bos to make it 53-53 with 94 seconds remaining in the game.
The Crusader defense came out pressuring the Hawks shooters, but had to resort to fouling and sending them to the line in the hopes that they’ll miss the front-end of the one-and-one.
That happened as Hardy nabbed the rebound, one of his 14 in his double-double 17-point and 14 rebound performance Monday with 27.4 seconds left in the game.
Salem Academy held for the last shot in which they fed Hardy in the post. Hardy with hands and bodies around him went up for the shot, no good. Hardy got the rebound with more traffic around him and went up again. No luck as the buzzer rang in the 53-52 Hawks win.
With Scio coming to town Tuesday night to wrap up the first-half of league, it gives the Crusaders an opportunity to flush out the loss Monday as the two squads meet up for the first time since December 22’s match-up at North Marion High School.
And it starts with their mental focus for their 6pm game.
“Just keeping our minds focused. We work so hard and we’re physical, but our minds let us down at times,” starts Hardy. “So staying focused and stay mentally intact will get us the win.”