Santiam Drops Tough Elite 8 Opener

By Jeremy McDonald

PENDLETON, Ore.–  Santiam knew the talent of Toledo entering the game, but they embraced the challenge as they turned a 20-13 first quarter hole into a 31-24 lead thanks to a 18-4 swing as they held a slight 32-30 halftime lead over the third-ranked Boomer squad that have only lost one game all year.

“We knew that just basically from watching film, we knew that their two guards (Conner) Marchant and (Jaydn) Spangler..we knew it was a tough load to carry the whole game and we knew that they would give us some opportunities and we just took advantage of them,” said Colin Thurston.  “Complete faith in our guys.  We have five guys at all times that could play, having that really helps.”

Marchat scored a game-high 22 points, but the Wolverines held Spangler to 11 points that forced other Toledo shooters to beat them in other ways on the court.

The Boomers answered however in the second half, eventually opening up a 53-43 lead entering the fourth quarter before Santiam cut it to 60-55 midway through the fourth quarter.  As their defense created stops, the Wolverines had opportunities to cut the lead further and possible stun Toledo.

Dustin Keys drives to the hole during the second half of Thursday’s game versus Toledo (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

But Santiam couldn’t capitalize on the offensive side as the Boomers held their lead steady in their 68-61 victory that set up a date with Western Christian Friday night at the Pendleton Convention Center.

The Wolverines will return to Pendleton High School Friday morning to face Lost River, who are 1-1 against Tri-River League oppositions with a win over Sheridan before falling to the Pioneers Thursday night as they look to rebound from Day one in Pendleton.

“I thought we were getting good looks, they weren’t falling.  If we get those same looks, I have faith that those will start falling for us,” said Thurston who scored 19 points.

Dustin Keys had six rebounds to led the way with the boards for Santiam and Aiden Aerni added 12 points in the loss.  Tip-off is at 10:45am.

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