By Jeremy McDonald
BEAVERTON, Ore.– Entering the fourth quarter, you could tell that both teams were trying to hold it together.
Little 2A Gervais led 4A Valley Catholic 43-27 in their 51-42 victory Monday night on the road, but both teams had that vibe like Jimmy Butler exhausted during the 2020 postseason.
“Valley…they push you. They run up-and-down, they’re physical. Pressing and they did it the whole game,” Gervais Head Coach Kyle Buse starts. “We don’t usually see teams that can do it the whole game and they did.
“I’m able to look into the eyes of my players and, ‘hey. It’s time. We need to be the mentally tough team’.”
Buse points to their loss to Willamina December 3 where they weren’t quite to that level as they hoped to be. But that’s what this tough preseason has been about. Becoming more mentally tough with challenges like the Bulldogs, the Valiants and the Country Christian’s.
All in preparation for them for the Salem Academy’s, the Colton’s and the Western Christian’s come Tri-River Conference play. Edging out the Crusaders 48 hours prior to Monday’s contest.
The Cougars pushed their lead to 17 two minutes in, up 46-29 on Valley Catholic. It had been a game of runs and the Valiants, who reached the 4A State Quarterfinals in 2020, weren’t able to go down without one final run.
And was it a run. A final push.
Five minutes later, with 75 seconds left in the game, Gervais found themselves up five with momentum against them and the Cougs relying on their defensive rebounding game to keep Valley Catholic to one shot per possession to the best of their abilities.
“I thought we did really well tonight. We pulled it together at the end and I thought we did really well,” Izzy Boyd said. “We finished with a lot of energy, I thought we really pulled it together and finished off the game.”
Energy was big and the elder Boyd has been known for her sparkplug ability, showcasing it again Monday with her aggression. Her, Mayra Perez, Sofia Contreras, it was a team effort to match the game’s long intensity that their opposition threw their way.
“It took all of their energy. They put a lot in Saturday at Salem Academy and they put a lot in (tonight),” Buse said. “My girls are tired. It’s been a long two days and we have a league game tomorrow, luckily, we’re back at home. We’ll rest them tonight and we have the late game tomorrow…practice on Wednesday will be interesting.”
The Cougars put the game to bed at the line as they held strong and true defensively as they now turn their attention to Santiam Tuesday at home. Hoping to avoid a lag from their two tough games the last three days with their second Tri-River Conference game. Tip-off for that game will be at 7pm.
Three Gervais players finished in double-digits. Olivia Boyd led the charge with 13, Izzy Boyd added another 12 and Ava Sellers contributed 12 as well.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald