By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Why not start the trilogy early this year between Woodburn and Stayton Boys Basketball?
Similar to soccer with their rivalry, basketball has carried the Fall rivalry into the gym for the Winter after last year’s league games and third-fifth place game at Forest Grove.
And as the game was a good appetizer for league and possibly the postseason again this year, the first 29 minutes were an appetizer for the final three in Stayton’s SCTC Holiday Classic Championship win Saturday night.
The Bulldogs just got to within three of the Eagles after Jonathan Marroquin’s 2-for-2 trip at the line with 1:56 and just needed a three to tie the then 48-45 game up, but that’s when it got interesting.
Just as intense the game was up to this point, the game had that figurative gasoline dump on the fire as the intensity picked up.
Stayton struggled at the free throw line and Woodburn missed their opportunities to tie the game with a three of their own.
“We got to makes shots,” said Woodburn Head Coach Raul Veliz. “We did have a lot of open shots to at least give us a chance, that’s a positive thing. If we weren’t getting those looks I’ll be a little more upset.
“But we actually got some good looks. We got a lay-in down on the other end, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. The ball goes in and sometimes it doesn’t and it didn’t for us today.”
With a league that has Cascade and Philomath off to strong starts, Woodburn and Stayton are right there with them. All looking for the playoffs with the plan of reaching the postseason and the Elite 8 battling for a trophy at season’s end.
With 13.5 seconds left, after all the rebound fights and loose ball battles, the difference maker happened when Ben Rash iced the win with a 2-for-2 free throw trip to push the Eagles lead to 50-45 on heels of a foul following Carson Nelson’s lay-in chance in Hope’s to draw a possible ‘And One’ to tie it.
And with the twin-bill of league games coming up on January 22 and February 14, it’s just an opportunity to adjust as they did following the first quarter.
“It’s kind of like a test. Logan (Classen) and I, we practice all the time together and we hit free throws…but that was a high pressure moment and we had to capitalize. Yeah we missed a couple, but we also made some at the end and it worked out with the win so it’s really good,” said Rash.
“Just do the same things we did tonight. Be confident and keep improving everyday, it’s really hard to beat a team three-times, we learned that last year in basketball. It’s Woodburn, they’re tougher every game, we just got to take it one-day at a time and we’ll be good.”
Marroquin finished with 11 points and Nelson contributed nine in the game for the Bulldogs as they wrap up league Tuesday versus South Albany.
Bryce Whieldon contributed 19 points in the win for the Eagles as they start league Friday against Philomath on a six-game winning streak