By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– The press of Woodburn under second-year Head Coach Taylor Belmont had created headaches in the Salem Academy Girls 56-51 win over the Bulldogs Friday afternoon.
Twice in particular did the Crusaders saw double-digit leads quickly dwindle to one-possession as Woodburn created 23 Salem Academy turnovers during the contest. The last run, coming from an 17-8 third quarter advantage, had a Crusader 32-20 halftime lead down to a 40-37 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“It’s good, we need to be clutch and for them to push us,” said Annabelle Brawley. “Just staying level headed and not letting them push us too far and make us go fast so we turn the ball over.”
Brawley who finished the game with 11 points and 10 rebounds, one of two double-doubles in the game for Salem Academy next to Chole Baker’s 14 points and 12 rebounds in the win, had to come through in the clutch in the fourth quarter.
Faced with the free throw advantage in the final frame, Brawley visited the line three times, had went 5-for-6 in the fourth to help keep the Crusaders ahead in the game.
“It was super encouraging and super great. My team was great, they had my back the whole time,” said Brawley.
Their defense played fundamentally and as sound as they could with the Woodburn giving them their best shot.
“It’s really good practice for us not being a league game or a super important game, it was good to get practice up like that close game and what to do,” said Baker. “We got young girls so to get practice in that intense situation and knowing what to do, I think that’s really important for us and it was really good to practice that tonight.”
The Bulldogs Aria Kent finished with 16 points and Lena Cabrera contributed 15 in the game as Salem Academy sealed the win down the stretch.