By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– Free Throws got a strange way of deciding games in basketball.
North Marion had their chances to put to bed their third win of the young season at the line leading as much as eight points entering the fourth quarter over Salem Academy, overcoming early first half fouls to lead 31-23 entering the final eight.
“It’s really what we needed to happen. We needed to keep it up and keep it going into the fourth quarter, but we weren’t able to,” said Katie Ensign.
Ensign scored seven straight points in the third, answering Annabelle Brawley’s three at the start of the half to give the Crusaders a 18-17 lead to putting the Huskies ahead 24-18 in the most offensive productive quarter of the game.
Salem Academy and North Marion are both in the same boat entering this season. Both are young in terms of Varsity experience and depth of seven or eight deep. So both squads will be tested in more ways than not in their respective journeys this year.
And as strong as Trevor Bodine’s defense traditional has been since his arrival four years ago, the Crusaders bought their time and took advantage of missed opportunities by the Huskie offense in the field and on the charity stripe during the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been working a lot on our defense, we knew we just needed to execute. We didn’t do as well in the first half, so we knew we needed to come out and play our game,” said Salem Academy’s Kayla Bauldree.
Annabelle Brawley, who was the unsung hero of sorts Friday against Woodburn with her free throws, stepped up once more in the second half. Brawly finished with ten points for the Crusaders.
Salem Academy eventually tied it at 31 as their defense stepped up big in the final eight minutes and pushed up court after a missed free throw by the Huskies with seconds to play. North Marion went 1-for-5 in the second half and shot 36-percent at the line in the game.
Bauldree tried for a lay-in, no good. Got the rebound and went up with 0.6 left in the game, fouled with the game on the line.
She hit both as Mya Hammack’s half-court heave just missed it’s mark for the win as Salem Academy walked away with the 33-31 win on the heels of facing two playoff caliber defenses.
“It’s good to know that we can execute and do what we need to do. I know we lost a lot of talent from last year coming into this year, but I think we’ve done really well and I’m really proud of my team,” said Bauldree.
Bauldree finished with eight points in the win.
Hammack finished with 11 points and five rebounds while Ensgin added three blocks and six board to her seven points in the second last-second heartbreaking defeat, the other coming from Stayton on December 12. Entering their Arizona trip 2-3, knowing how close their three defeats this year had been to the Crusaders, Eagles and Corvallis, could be a good sign of things to come for North Marion moving forward. Knowing that a bounce here, a bounce there they would be 5-0 instead of 2-3.
“There’s no other way to show us,” said Ensign. “It’s actually happening and we got to know we got to fix it and preserver through the games because if we don’t fix it, then it’s going to continue to happen.
“We just need to finish games. We’ve been working on all of our little things that we need to work on. We still have to have heart, want to finish and want to play our best game. Play to the best of our potential.”