By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– With the height advantage going against them, the Salem Academy girls’ basketball team went another direction. Showcasing their aggression and grit that fed right into their defense to limit the offense of Nyssa to 33 points in the Crusader Classic Girls Black Bracket Championship game.
“It was frustrating knowing that shots weren’t falling. I mean we got a pretty good defense, a couple of little things we could’ve done better on. But our defense was pretty solid, just keeping our head up and working hard on offense knowing that the shots were going to fall as we kept playing,” Annabelle Brawley said.
Brawley sustained a black eye in the opening minutes of the game, but her defense on six-five junior Gracie Johnson helped limit the Nyssa post to 11 points in the game. Brawley herself contributed 11 points for the Crusaders in the tough 33-24 game that saw the Bulldogs edging the hometown squad.
Nyssa jumped out to a 13-9 first quarter lead and led 21-14 at halftime, the Crusaders shot 2-for-8 in the opening half at the free throw line that could’ve brought the game closer going into the third quarter. The ‘Dogs defense made things miserable for the Salem Academy defense in return, holding the Crusaders to 16-percent from the field for the whole game entirely.
And in return, Nyssa continued to push their lead out further as they were able just to get enough to fall against the strong showing of Salem Academy’s defense to get their lead up to 27-17 at the end of the third quarter. A margin that they really didn’t relinquish for the remainder of the game as the Bulldogs improved to 10-0 on the year and then hosted Idaho’s Melba on Tuesday before opening up Eastern Oregon League play Friday at Riverside.
As for Salem Academy, they return to Tri-River Conference play Wednesday when they’ll travel over the hill to play Culver.
“We knew coming into it (tonight) that a lot of them are shooters. All of them have a good shot, we knew (Johnson) was going to do her thing so we just had to play physical and play good defense,” “We kept them to 33. It was a close-ish game. It was good to play aggressive teams because if you’re not playing aggressive teams and playing teams that you’re easily going to beat, it’s going to get you nowhere in State.
“It’s just going to make us a stronger team.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald