By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– North Salem took their chances against Lebanon Tuesday night at home to wrap up the first half of Mid-Willamette Conference play.
The Vikings built a 21-1 first quarter lead and hovered around 15 and 20 for much of the first half and entering the early going for the second half against the Warriors, but a quick change in defensive looks by Lebanon from Man to more of a trap and pressure defense that challenged North Salem entering the fourth quarter.
“At first it was tough because we were used to their man defense and we were breaking it easily. By halftime they came out with good execution and we just had to draw something up on the run on the sideline, which worked for us sometimes by we got to clean it up in practice and we got to come out ready against Crescent Valley,” said Tameron Hampton on the difference from the first half to the second half.
Hampton dunked twice for the Vikings as the six-five senior finished with 17 points for North Salem with their lead at 46-27 entering the final eight-minute stretch of the game.
The last win for North Salem was on December 17 against Dallas, a 66-52 win before they entered the Capitol City Classic that Thursday. Since then, the Vikings had lost eight straight contest, five where it was 10 points or less.
Seemed smooth sailing into the win column for the first time in 2019, but it didn’t come without some sweating it out however.
With the pressure defense in-front of them and fouls allowing the door to be open, Lebanon got back to within nine with 38.6 seconds left in the game thanks to a 18-8 run and the Warriors were looking for more even though the odds were against them.
It was a good learning experience for the North Salem as they enter the second half of league Friday against the Raiders. At 3-5 in league the Vikings are a game out of fifth-place, two of fourth and three of third-place with Top four going to the postseason.
“I think we can improve upon pressure, press, and just playing smart when we got the lead,” said Phavor Swank. “That’s all what we need to improve on.”
North Salem pushed their lead back up to double-figures as time expired for their first win in over a month 58-47 as they start the second go-around of league on the road against a Crescent Valley team that they beat 54-37 on December 11 at home Friday night at 7pm.
“Basketball is a game of runs, even though they went on a little run we felt like we were still in control. We played our game and we came out with a ‘W’ at the end,” said Hampton. “It feels good going into the second half of league, going into these games knowing that we could get trying to show that we’re a new team this season.”
Michael Endicott had 11 points and Braden Vasquez added another 10 in the win Tuesday night.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald