By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The eerie chant of ‘Salem, Salem, Salem’ will be making another trip to Coos Bay this March as the Salem Academy boys basketball team clinched their first trip back to the Southern Oregon coast in three years.
With the game tied at 18 in their 54-46 victory Saturday evening, the Crusaders needed a slight run to help separate themselves from the Pleasant Hill Billies in front of them. Pleasant Hill were able to come out swinging the first quarter and a half of the game before the Crusaders built a 30-18 lead into the third quarter.
“It’s good in a play-in game. In the past we’ve been up and we’ve let that lead down. But it was good, we got the lead and kept pushing and raise that lead,” said Luke Miller.
The last two years Salem Academy were knocking at the door of returning to Coos Bay before Santiam Christian both times had other plans for them. The Eagles went instead in both of those match-ups.
With their athleticism, talent and potential this year, the Crusaders met the Billies attempts of a comeback with critical plays and stops when they needed them to the cheers of their home crowd. Keeping Pleasant Hill from getting any closer than eight points after the 12-0 run by Salem Academy to get to the 30-18 lead.
“I think it was tougher than we expected coming into it, just playoff basketball. Everyone’s here to win” said Bennet Bos. “We’ve had our ups-and-downs, but that run definitely helped us stay afloat and cement that we were going to win this game.”
Just the little things are what they’ll need to work on entering their Coos Bay opener against St. Mary’s of Medford Thursday night at 6:30pm.
“Man, intensity all game. We got to play all four quarters how we want to play,” said Miller. “We can’t let one quarter…have a bad quarter. We just got to play all four quarters. Hard work and rebounding, everything. We got to execute.”
Miller finished with a team-high 21 points, five rebounds and five assist in the win. Bos finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. The Billies Max Smith finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds in the game.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald