By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– North Marion’s game plan this year will be and has been to be the aggressor. And on Thursday night, the Huskies were against the fourth-ranked team in 3A in the Pleasant Hill Billies.
That aggression helped North Marion jump out to a 8-0 lead and lead the Billies 20-10 after one quarter in their 66-50 victory to win their fourth-in-a-row and fifth of their last six coming down the home stretch of their non-league schedule.
That strong start was important for Evan Holman, they weren’t able to start well but this was a welcome chance as Kaden Henderson hit a half-court shot at the end of the opening eight minutes.
“We just wanted to start the game strong, that’s been a struggle for us so I thought we did a good job today starting the game strong,” Holman said. “I knew they were going to go on runs and we were going to go on runs. After they went on their run (in the second quarter), we knew it was our turn and we just had to tighten up the defense.”
Following their strong first quarter the Huskies had hit a slump, a speed bump of sorts in an otherwise strong game as they went the first 4:27 of the second quarter without a basket. Pleasant Hill had made it really unpleasant during that span, chipping away at that margin and got it to three at 20-17 before Isaiah Mata broke the drought with free throws.
Holman followed and soon enough they were off to the races again as they went up 31-17 at the halftime break with freshman Cole Hammack hitting the final shot of the half with 33 seconds to cap a 11-0 run to close out the half. Refocusing at the right moment to get back on track.
“It was really important, we just needed to take better shots and get to the rim,” Hammack said. “It was really big for us because if we don’t build that lead, then it’s a close game all game. We had to get that lead early and sustain it to the end.”
By the 3:16 mark of the third quarter the Huskies pushed their lead to 46-22 and held strong during the Billies final push going into the fourth. Sustaining their energy and momentum as Hammack (11), Mata (13), Holman (15) and Carter Reilly (13) all recorded double-digit points for North Marion in the win.
Pleasant Hill’s Matt Dutton led the Billies with 16 points and Micha Stam contributed 12 for the road team who will look to rebound from their second loss in ten games Tuesday at Blanchet Cahtolic.
For the Huskies, it’s off to Banks Wednesday to play the Braves at 7pm as they’ll look to finish off their preseason slate strongly at Banks. That’s followed up with a home game against Valley Catholic (January 7) and at Seaside (January 14) before kicking off Tri-Valley Conference play January 18 at Corbett.
“I hope we can keep our momentum, that’s going to be very important and I’m looking forward to it,” Holman said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald