By Jeremy Mcdonald
SALEM, Ore — Defense kept this game close and it was defense that won the day for Western Christian in the Tri-River Conference match-up with Sheridan with the Pioneers defeating the Spartans 46-38 to improve to 3-1 in TRC play.
The Western Christian defense created turnovers for its offense and won the rebounding battle, limiting Sheridan’s shooters to one shot per possession in the chaos that both teams brought to the table on this evening.
Relying on mental toughness and mental focus to help separate themselves from their competition.
“It was really big because a lot of us were getting down, we just couldn’t really hit anything, so it was really the defense that won this game for us,” the Pios Sarah Halgren said. “I think oru defense could be one of the best in our league. I think if we just continue to work on it, we can beat Gervais, we can beat Salem Academy and could potentially win our league.”
Halgren hit a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer to help hand Western Christian a 19-17 lead going into the second half. The three-pointer came on the heels of a Sheridan run that had drawn the Sparts ahead 17-16 seconds prior off a Onahzay Pacheco three, capping a 9-4 turnaround leading into Halgren’s three.
Sheridan stayed with the Pioneers during the second half, drawing the game even at 27-all midway through the third quarter before Western Christian went on a 10-3 run to close out the third quarter.
The Spartans drew them back in down 37-36 following Haley Ayala’s basket with 503 remaining in the game. But the difference was that defense by the Pioneers that created turnovers and helped out with the boards that sparked those two second half runs with the one in the third quarter and the final push over the course of the final five minutes of the game.
“We played hard, but I thought we could’ve played harder. They wanted it more. They were boxing us out, they kept getting up there…we were in it, but we let go of it.” Ayala said. “We got to work harder, we got to know what the competition is and just go out there and compete. We can’t walk into the game, ‘oh we’re going to lose’, we got to go out there and fight for it. The second half is what gets us, we’re gassed and we don’t want to work for it anymore. We know we can compete now, we just have to learn from our mistakes from this game moving forward.”
Ayala finished with 18 points for Sheridan. Natalie Nielsen contributed another eight for the Spartans (5-5, 1-1 TRC) who travels to Salem Academy on Friday.
Halgren led the game with 20 points and Reese Hall added another 12 points as Western Christian is schedule to play Gervais on Friday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald