By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The new kids on the block came to play. Two games into their inaugural season in the Tri-River Conference, the Salem Academy Boys Basketball team are 2-0.
The squad followed up their 67-23 win over Colton Tuesday with a blazing start against Santiam in their 59-38 win over Santiam Thursday night that featured a 22-7 lead after the opening quarter of the game to set the pace. Challenging the young Wolverine squad to play smart basketball with the talent that Santiam has on the court.
“It’s always nice to open up at home on a hot streak. I think it really paid off having some tough games earlier in this season against 6A teams (in McKay and South Salem), we had an overtime thriller in Tillamook to help us with these moments,” said Salem Academy’s Bennett Bos.
Bos finished the game with 21-points and three rebounds in the game, matching up against Santiam’s six-foot-seven-inch Chaz Storm. Storm, a Junior, nearly had a first-half double-double as the Wolverine big man finished with 16-points, nine-rebounds in the game.
Both shared a comment or two post-game, smiling and joking as the two-stud athletes prepare for what is to come in the always tough TRC.
“Chaz, he’s really good. He’s six-seven, high-release, he shoots the lights out. Ezra (Downey) going down hurt them, helped us sadly, I hope he gets better,” Bos said of Storm and Downey. “We knew they had two guys. Lock-in on those guys and everything will take care of itself.”
Ty Best stepped in as a solid second-option for Santiam when Downey went down with an injury in the first half, the six-foot-six-inch sophomore scored 11 points with eight rebounds himself.
Despite the solid games from the towering twins, Salem Academy seemed to be a step ahead, a move ahead of the Wolverines.
Santiam hovered around down ten, but couldn’t make a run at the lead with the Crusaders always coming up with a defensive stop or answer the Wolverines score with a score of their own. A good learning experience out of the gate Game one nonetheless on where they are at with their Basketball IQ as they head back to the practice room to prepare for Gervais next week.
“Oh we’re going to have to improve, no question about that,” chuckled Head Coach JD Hill. “I know that’s our weakness and I know coming into this year it was going to be our weakness. Ezra getting hurt in the first quarter sent us into more of a panic, so we just have to control our emotions, settle down, play basketball and have a little bit better IQ. That’s what we got to do.”
Kennedy, Sheridan and Western Christian will make them use their heads moving forward pointed Hill.
“We have to play with a High-IQ if we want to win. We either learn it or we don’t and I think that we can. We just have to challenge ourselves to do it, accept it and want to do it,” Hill said.
Salem Academy will kick-off a three-game road trip Tuesday when they travel to former PacWest Conference-foe Dayton Tuesday in Dayton before taking on 2A juggernaut Western Christian on Thursday along Highway 221.
Chase Brown was the only other Crusader to score in double-figures with ten points.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald