By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– Similar to Sergio Jimenez’ clutch free throws to help the North Marion boys clinch the Tri-Valley Conference title over Gladstone on February 15, the Huskie girls too had their moment at the free throw line late in Saturday’s playoff game against Henley.
When Raymee Boese walked up to the line with 21 seconds left in the game, the game was tied at 45. It seemed not too long ago North Marion were down seven at halftime that took a turn for the worst when it ballooned out to ten midway through the third quarter.
The Hornets Jessica Northcutt had been challenging Boese and the North Marion defense all game long, scoring 21 points when the Senior in Boese stepped to the line following a Henley timeout.
Crowd noise was a factor, built up over the course of the 21-11 advantage entering the final ticks of the game before going slient. The only noise came from the few Hornet fans who made the trip up from Klamath Falls for the game.
“The pressure was definitely there, there was a lot of it,” said Boese. “But knowing that my team had confidence in me, it felt like there wasn’t any pressure at all.”
As the ball went through the net and Boese yelled out something in the line of ‘we need a stop’ that came way of a Mya Hammack steal moments later, that had the Huskies back on the line with the North Marion fanbase spilling slightly into the court in celebration.
The noise level was that of Autzen Stadium on a Fall Saturday afternoon, the girls were mere seconds from joining the guys team in going to the Elite 8 this upcoming weekend in Forest Grove.
But the free shots weren’t easy, with Hammack’s two to put the Huskies up 48-45, were just their fourth and fifth made free throws of 34 total taken.
“I obviously think we need to clean up our free throws a lot and just those short little lay-ins,” said Hammack with Newport in front of them next. “I feel like we overthink it, so I feel like we need to focus on those. Honestly just hit our shots and our free throws and I think we’ll be good.”
Those free throws, those short lay-ins, those little things all had Head Coach Trevor Bodine to the brink of a nervous breakdown and on a brink of an aneurysm all at the same time.
When the buzzer rang however, Bodine sat on his chair in the gym with his team celebrating the improbable win. He was stunned, stunned of what he had just witnessed, yet proud of his team. He was slightly teary-eyed in his seat as he chased down scores of the night in knowing his team didn’t fold up tent being faced with that big of a challenge.
“Being down seven at half and not being able to hit, I don’t know five or six one-to-two foot shots. We’ve had some really good looks in the first half, they weren’t going in,” said Bodine. “We must have missed five or six lay-ups. So to be down seven at half with Northcutt just drilling us like she was, I don’t know how we pulled that out. I really don’t.
“I mean, it just shows their dedication to finish things off.”
The Cubs, a former Oregon West Conference-foe from last year, stunned number-five Hidden Valley in OT to advance to Thursday’s 3:15pm game at Forest Grove High School.
With their sights set on the State Title, Saturday night’s game serves as a good reminder that if it’s number-one Marshfield or number-12 Newport, you cannot sleep on any team in front of you.
“We can’t take any team lightly, we have to expect every game like it’s our last game ever,” said Boese.