By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Close games have been a House of Horrors for the North Marion girls basketball program this season.
Of their six losses this season, three of them were of two points variety, including two losing at the buzzer.
Prior to Katie Ensign’s three-pointer that brought the Huskies to within one of undefeated Gervais 26-25 in North Marion’s 31-28 win Friday afternoon, the game had the feeling that the ball was in the court of the Cougars for their tenth win of the year.
Megan Netter, Jaydan Sahlin and Mallory Patzer were in foul trouble when Ensign hit her three with 5:25 remaining in the game. Netter and Sahlin each had four fouls and Patzer with three against a Gervais defense that were as tough as their own as the game came down to the wire.
But they stepped it up. Sahlin tied it at 26 at the line, Mya Hammack hands the Huskies the lead. North Marion were slowly adding to their lead thanks to drawing fouls against the Gervais defense as Netter made it 29-26 with her splitting at the line.
“It felt great, we’ve been on a losing streak so it felt great coming in this tournament and start winning and especially pulling out the win,” said Netter. “Our ranking is going to go up, it’s helping us with our confidence. It’s helping us a lot.”
Those close games were helping the Huskies when it was suppose to. On the other end, the Cougars were in their first remotely close game of the year and doing it without Bella Vasquez who went out the first two minutes of the game with a left ankle injury.
The closest game Gervais had was their 56-38 win Thursday against Amity as they’ve been outscoring opponents 536-192 entering Friday’s game in their nine-game winning streak.
Yes they were in close games last year with this nucleus, but it was a matter of knocking off the rust with Netter pushing North Marion’s lead to 31-28 in the closing minute of the game.
“Now we know what playing to the end is, we got to play a whole game,” said the Cougs Lilly Welburn. “We got to do everything the whole time. We got it, we’ll come back.”
Gervais will play the loser of the Santiam-Horizon Christian game Saturday while the Huskies play the winner of the game as Netter’s free throws, plus Katie Ensign’s block of Celi Vasquez’ tying three-pointer, iced North Marion’s second-straight win and fourth of the season.
“Honestly it wasn’t that bad, I’m use to that situation especially against Gervais,” said Netter, who finished with three points in the game. “When I was younger I was playing against them all the time and I was always in that situation. My team made it fun for me so I forgot it was a pressure situation.”
Celi Vasqeuz finished with seven points for the Cougars.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald