By Jeremy McDonald
CORVALLIS, Ore.—It wasn’t the prettiest of halves, but Central found a way to get it done leading Corvallis 20-12 at the halftime break Tuesday night.
Their defense pitched a shutout in the second quarter of their 55-37 lead, knowing their eight-point halftime lead was still within reach of the Spartan team in front of them that’s known to get streaky with their three-pointers if left opened.
“I think we did great, they weren’t getting open shots and draining threes. They had a few here and there but it wasn’t like they were killing us with them, so I though we did pretty well with their shooters and played good defense,” said Meagan Mendazona.
“We have a mindset that we take every day at a time and we knew we need to come out with that intensity every single quarter, to not let up because it was a big game for us,” adds Kennedy Kantola.
Corvallis made one three-pointer through the first three quarters, that coming in the first quarter from Elka Prechel. Prechel, who finished with eight, and Ava Prechel hit three-pointers in the fourth quarter. It was the only other times the Spartans hit from deep against the Central defense.
Kantola had used her height to go up for rebounds along with Mendazona who set up the offense on the other end of the court. Dishing out assists to her teammates while finishing with 33 points in the victory.
“With them not making shots that we thought they were going to make, boosted our confidence a lot when we came down for the offensive end,” said Kantola, who finished with 10 points. “It boosted our confidence a lot to make our shots with our defensive work.”
The Panthers had answers on this night against Corvallis. The Spartans cut the lead down to 25-20 in the third quarter, Central responded with an 14-0 run that stretched until Kylie Bluhm’s split at the free throw line thirty seconds into the fourth quarter to snap the run.
Corvallis, Lebanon and the Panthers were all tied in the Mid-Willamette Conference standings at 4-2 with West Albany right behind them with three league losses, so a win at this juncture would be ideal in keeping up with Silverton at the front of the pack.
And yes, the Spartans did get to within 11 of the Panthers midway through the fourth quarter, but the Central defense and offensive rebuttal kept Corvallis at bay.
Now sitting in a two-way tie with the Warriors at 5-2 and two games off the Foxes pace, Friday’s rivalry game versus Dallas will be as important with their rematch Tuesday at Silverton to kick-off the second loop of league.
“It’s huge, now we’re up there with Silverton,” said Mendazona. “But we got to come out, we got Dallas on Friday and we got to get that ‘W’ too. From here we got good momentum going, but every game we got to come out and work harder.”
Sadie Wendring finished with seven points for Central. Anna Dazey finished with 13 points for Corvallis in the defeat.