By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The question became who will embrace this moment and set the tone first when South Salem and McNary tipped off Saturday night.
The Saxons gym was packed, the DJ was in the house and spinning for this big moment between the two squads who stood 12-3 overall and 5-0 in the Mountain Valley Conference standings entering this game.
Both teams traded baskets early with the plan for the Saxons were to limit Nate Meithof the best they could. South led 18-13 after the first quarter over the Celtics.
The question of who will embrace the moment and how loud the gym was, in a way, answered in the second quarter.
“I knew we had to come out with fire tonight. Last year on this court they beat us, they rushed our own court. So we had a little under our belts and we were ready to go tonight,” said South Salem Saxon Trey Galbraith. “It was a big win and all, they were undefeated. We knew coming into this one knowing we’re suppose to do this, we should do this to every team every night. We’re going to come out ready no matter who we play.”
The little stream that the Saxons built into the second stanza saw the dam broke as their offense exploded for 23 points. Galbraith admitted that they have the ability to produce in this way often, it was a matter of executing come game-time.
Their defense held Meithof to three points after the Junior scored seven points in the first quarter. For a defense that capitalized on steals and rebounds, Meithof’s three was just half of the points South permitted as the led 41-19 at halftime.
As pleasant as it was for the Saxons, it was as equally frustrating for a Celtic squad looking to continue their recent success at South Salem having won the last two meetings on the road. With the first loop of league coming to a close, it’s a matter of working on the little things moving forward.
“We didn’t come out as strong as we did in the first quarter to start. We weren’t mentally prepared to play,” said McNary’s Nate Meithof of the first half moving forward. “Just work harder in practice, get better as teammates and better defensively because that’s where we were lacking today.”
The two teams placed each other in the second half with the Saxons adding onto their lead ever so slightly as they currently stand alone onto of the MVC Standings with West Salem coming up Tuesday.
“We just got to come out ready to practice on Monday and don’t get complacent with all the wins we got because we haven’t done anything yet. We still have whole another round of conference and the playoffs, so we can’t be complacent,” said Galbraith.
Galbraith finished with 21 points, Nick Zuro contributed 25 points for South. Meithof had 23 points for McNary.