By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–Through the injuries and missing a few cruical parts of their rotation recently, the Saxons of South Salem are getting it done following their Mountain Valley Conference opening loss to Mountain View on January 11.
Their 53-43 win over Bend Tuesday was their fourth-straight win since that loss, keeping pace with the Cougars with one loss in the conference standings with the younger girls stepping up as they have to fill the void left by those out of the rotation.
“It’s been fun, especially having some of our starters out. A lot of the younger girls have stepped up, in practice we’ve pushed the younger girls to play and push the ball. We’ve been working on our defense and I felt like that’s what kept us in the game,” Maggie Lapray said.
Lapray points to this past Spring when she remembered having to step up herself as a sophomore and has been impressed especially with Sadie Patterson. Patterson, a sophomore, scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in the game, contributing and stepping into a role on the run as she has.
“Sadie’s doing really great getting buckets and attacking the rim, getting rebounds. We expect a lot from her even though she’s a sophomore and wasn’t expecting to start or play,” Lapray said of Patterson.
Tuesday’s game was not an easy one however as the Lava Bears turned to their workhorse in Peyton Gardner to guide them on the road trip. The senior in Gardner helped keep Bend within striking distance of South Salem with her twenty points, challenging the banged up Saxons team in making a crucial stop and crucial play to get the job done down the stretch.
South Salem led by two going into the third quarter and managed to piece together a strong second half, answering plays by Gardner and Bend to turn the two point lead into a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Holding onto that two-possession lead for much of the fourth quarter until free throws late made it a double-digit game thanks to their rebounding game and transitioning it into their offense on the other side of the court. .
“(Gardner) was the main focus for sure. Offensively she attacked and made good passes for her teammates,” Maddie Dustin said of the Bend guard. “It all came down to boxing out when she shot her shots. We held her at the end of the game, which is big, we got through it and we won.”
Dustin led the Saxons with 18 points. Her and Lapray each scored in double-figures as Lapray contributed 11 for South Salem who now face McNary Friday and West Salem nextThursday to close out the first loop through league. Knowing too that these next ew practices will be crucial in bringing the new faces up to speed for those two big games ahead.
“We just got to prepare the other girls to step up in practice. We all gotta work hard in practice and I think that’s what’s going to get us to win those games,” Dustin said.
Chloe Leluge was the other lone Lava bear to score in double-figures in the game, contributing 12 points in the defeat.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald