By Jeremy McDonald
PORTLAND, Ore.– Anything is possible once you get to the Chiles Center. The seeding doesn’t matter, your journey to this point doesn’t matter.
All that matters at this point is win if you want that State Championship Trophy.
South Salem held a 30-29 lead with 7:08 left in the third and just rebounded the second miss from McMinnville Hannah Galen. To add to the chaos, Victoria Stafford was carried off the court two minutes into the second half.
The rough start, the rough half and third quarter perhaps as Grace Bliven’s three handed McMinnville the lead by the 4:20 mark for the lead, was an eye-opener for sure with the Roulette wheel of luck going against them thus far in the game down 32-30.
“We started off really rough in the first half. We’ve faced a lot of adversity when V got hurt and we just pushed through at the end. Picked it up on defense and played as a team I think was the biggest thing we did,” said Zoe Fry.
Fry went full Shaq-Mode with four blocks for South Salem in the game with Delaney Keith picking up four of the Saxons ten steals in the game. Keith would answer Bliven’s three-pointer before James hit on her 24th point as the Grizzlies called timeout with 3:38 left in the third with South up 35-32. James had 22 first half points and finished with 35 points in the 56-45 victory against the Grizzles.
Mac rallied and had edge the Saxons entering the fourth up 39-38. Ellyson Haytas handed South back the lead four seconds into the fourth quarter, James hit a three and the Saxons held a 43-39 lead with McMinnville calling timeout.
But it was just the beginning. The house money that was in favor of the Grizz switched to South coming out of the timeout.
One of Fry’s blocks led to a Gretchen Olson three. James added another three to put the Saxons up 49-39 with 5:30 left. Keith hit on another three that put South Salem ahead 52-41 by the 4:43 mark.
The 21-6 run decided both team’s fate’s on this night to cap the Saxons first trip back to the Chiles Center in three years entering Thursday’s day-off before the Semi’s on a high note for sure.
“We just needed to pick up our defense. Our defense is everything. If our defense is there, our offense will back it up and that’s what we needed to do,” said Keith. “It was definitely an eye-opener, we definitely need to work on a few things to get ready for the next game and we’ll get it.”
Keith finished with 11 points, three rebounds and three assist to go with her four steals on the night as South Salem will take South Medford next for a chance at the 6A State Title Game.