By Jeremy McDonald
MILL CITY, Ore.—Santiam came roaring back into the game after being down ten to start the fourth quarter. Turning a 32-22 deficit into a 34-31 ball game with2:55 left, capped off with baskets by Jenessa Leon and Alexa Clark within a few seconds of each other against Sheridan.
The Spartans brought the intensity in their 36-31 win, led by 18 points by Haley Ayala, but this Wolverine rally did put Sheridan on their toes for their second-straight win Monday afternoon.
“It was really tough, (Sheridan) was really aggressive but we worked together and built the momentum to score,” Leon said, who finished with six points for Santiam. “Just work together more and be able to build as a team.
“We did pretty good (against the pressure), we were a little off and not really able to understand how hard they were pushing. But once we figured out how they were playing, we were able to settle it down and play our game.”
Throughout the game, both teams had their rallies. The Wolverines held a brief 7-6 lead in the first quarter before the Spartans answered with a 13-6 advantage going into halftime behind their press defense.
Sheridan then turned the 19-13 lead into a 32-22 lead going into the fourth with Santiam slowly pulling the Sparts back down the stretch.
“Very intense,” Sheridan’s Ayala said of the fourth quarter. “We all came together and worked just really hard with teamwork, that was really great. I’m proud of my team for that. Last year we lost and had a young team, it’s so great. It’s nice. Our aggressive side at the end of the game, I’m glad we did great.”
The Spartans relied on their defense to keep the Santiam Surge at bay. Contesting three, four opportunities in the final minutes to sustain their lead. They held strong as they tried to add to their lead, Santiam trying to tie before having to resort to fouling in the final minute where Ayala would ice the victory with a pair of free throws with 45.6 seconds remaining.
“We had to be so aggressive. We had to run to the ball and I got free throws for that and that was super big…so it was huge,” Ayala said of the defense down the stretch.
Daelyn Aerni also contributed six points for the Wolverines. Natalie Nielsen scored 12 points for Sheridan in the win.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald