By Jeremy McDonald
It was a necessary evil in their journey for a Chiles Center-berth down the line for the South Salem boys basketball team Wednesday night.
A win is a win true. But their 58-37 win over Newberg was all but a smooth ride to the Sweet 16 in the process with the Tigers proving in their season finale that everyone will be giving the second-seed Saxons their best.
With missed offensive opportunities from being rushed with turnovers and ill-advised fouls had capped the Mountain Valley Conference-Champions lead to 15, 16 points until the fourth quarter where they found more a sound groove overall.
“We definitely gotten shaken up a little bit today, but going forward we’re going to pick it up and keep our composure, this was an eye-opener. In practice we’re going to pick it up and get ready for Oregon City,” said Jasper Phipps. “We just got to keep playing our game, keep the intensity up and transition but just staying compose all-around.”
Phipps scored ten of his 14 points down the stretch of the game, Kieran Pruett contributed another 17 points in a game in which the scrappy defense Wednesday won’t be as different as the defense they’ll see this Saturday back at South Salem.
The Pioneers in the second game of the season took the Saxons to Overtime before South pulled off the non-league, 56-51 win December 13. And with Oregon City coming back to Salem Saturday on the heels of their 57-53 win over North Medford in Medford Wednesday, Wednesday’s game was a good appetizer of the beast that is playoff basketball moving forward.
“It’s good because the playoffs are a different animal. We got to come out every night and not take anyone from granted. Oregon City is going to be a good defensive team, we got to lock into practice and get some good practices under our belts before we play them, said Pruett.
South Salem led 10-7 two minutes left into the first quarter before opening up a 32-16 lead in the second quarter and led 32-21 at the halftime break.
Soloman Byers led Newberg with 13 points, Spencer Lanier contributed another eight in the defeat for the Tigers, but Newberg couldn’t get the deficit down to the single-digits in the second half of the game.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald