By Jeremy McDonald
MT. ANGEL, Ore.– Both Kennedy and Santiam Boys Basketball proved again why every night in the Tri-River Conference is going to be like warfare.
Physicality, athleticism and the unwillingness to go down without a fight illustrate between the Trojans and the Wolverines Thursday night was just another example of how tough the league really is as Santiam etched out an 51-47 victory on the road on this night.
“Kennedy always battle. Everyone in our league battles, it was a tough battle and we came out on top,” said Santiam’s Hunter Reese.
Reeser had pushed the Wolverines to ten 26-16 with 3:56 left until halftime with a pair of free throws, but it wasn’t long until Kennedy rode their Trojan horse back into the game.
Santiam’s lead was cut to five by halftime and Kennedy continued their rally into the second half. Their defense limit the Santiam offense and saw Luke Hall who capped the Kennedy 12-0 run with five straight points that handed the Trojans a 28-26 lead midway through the third quarter.
Hall finished with 23 points for Kennedy despite being challenged by the Wolverine defense himself.
“It’s good to have a good guy like that to rely on and move the ball around, it helps out a lot because it makes the offense a lot more easier making plays off of him and creating shots with other guys,” said Riley Cantu of Hall.
Cantu finished with 16 points himself as the Trojans second offensive weapon against Santiam Thursday.
Colin Thurston tied the game up at 28 and Kobe Dyer’s three gave the Wolverines a 31-28 lead with 2:21 left in the third quarter. Kennedy’s Brady Traeger pulled the Trojans to within one of Santiam’s as it seemingly felt like each basket were in response to the other’s basket coming down into the fourth quarter.
“We were moving the ball around. We missed some shots early but we got some of them falling in the third quarter and played some great D. I thought we picked it up there at the end,” said Cantu.
Santiam led 41-37 in the fourth, the Trojans went on a run to regain the lead at 45-41, the Wolverines clawed back behind.
Chaz Storm, who scored 11 points in the first half and nine in the fourth, handed Santiam the lead back with a three and Reeser pushed the 46-45 lead to 48-45 at the line coming down the final moments of the game.
It just showed, as Santiam sealed their tenth win of the year, what they are capable of when adversity presents itself as it did on this night.
“This just kind of showed the adversity that we can go up against and all the challenges that we can go up against. We’re still going to work hard and show how determined we are to reach our goals,” said Reeser.
Reeser finished with 10 points, six in the fourth quarter, for the Wolverines.