By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– North Marion has been in these situations before entering the second half against Stayton Wednesday night on the road.
Woodburn, Marshfield and Sweet Home all were tight games as the Huskies picked up their third-straight win 70-61 against the Eagles.
Sergio Jimienez handed North Marion a 14-12 lead after the first quarter in a first half where both teams were neck-and-neck with one another.
“I feel like we did better than we did last game. The physicality was there, but I feel like we could do so much better,” said the Huskies Johnny Page.
North Marion built a 31-25 halftime lead on an young Stayton team who showed off their talent replacing guys like Riley Nichol, Kaleb Anundi and Jordan Butler from last years squad. But the little things prevented them from breaking an run against the Huskie defense in front of them entering the second half.
“Our young guys are great players, we got a bunch of dudes that have super high ceilings. We honestly don’t treat them any differently than the guys from last year because they have a lot of talent,” said Ben Rash. “North Marion is a really good team, they’ve played together for a long time. We just got to rebounds, we got to be tougher.
“We got to shoot the ball better. Our chemistry will get better, but that’s one thing we’ve lacked a little right now. But one thing we really struggle with right now is running our offense.”
Just understanding their roles in first-year Head Coach’s Aaron Munhic’s scheme, something that they’ll eventually work towards during this season points Rash.
Derek Berning led the Stayton offense with 16 points and Jacob Axmaker scored 15 points. Logan Classen, who was held to nine points in the second half, scored the first three points of the third quarter to get the Eagles to within three of the Huskies.
The Stayton Eagle defense got a stop on the next possession, but the North Marion defense too shut the door on them as Johnny Page pushed the lead from 31-28 to 35-28 on the next two possessions.
Page went for nine third quarter points, finishing with 17 points in the win. Jiminez with 15 and Brady Hansen contributed 12 for the three Huskie players who scored in double-figures Thursday night.
The defense continued to roll, coming through in the third quarter as their lead and came through in the clutch in the fourth in preventing a Stayton run in the closing minutes of the victory.
“It’s been so much better because everyone’s going to be better from the first game, we’ve improved since we started off,” said Page. “On offense we were struggling a little bit, but come in the second half with the mentality to win. That was it.”
Stayton host Banks Saturday while North Marion travels to Tillamook on Saturday.