By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– South Salem kept their hopes of a Mountain Valley Conference title alive with their 52-50 overtime win over West Salem Wednesday night.
Not just did they did that, but a relatively healthy Saxons team snapped the Titans 12-game winning streak in the process.
It was a gritty game. Physical with press defenses, falling back to defend fastbreaks and runs in the second half that saw South leading as much as ten in the third, West up six in the fourth and somehow the game ending in a tie after regulation.
“We just had to slow it down a little, we can go fast sometimes. We were up by a little bit, so we should go fast but not hurry our plays and just go into the pressure,” Lapray said. “At the very end it was very rough, we turned it over a lot of times. It was nice to have the fans, our bench was super loud and we trusted each other which was a big thing. If we didn’t trust each other, we couldn’t have gotten it done.
“So we trusted each other and passed the ball to each other, make our free throws at the end.”
Entering the four-minute overtime period tied at 48, a Lapray basket and Maddie Dustin splitting her two free throws at the line pushed the Saxons ahead 51-48 with 1:20 left in the game. Mya Adams drew the Titans back to one 25 seconds later and was the spark plug for West Salem in overtime in creating opportunities with steals with the senior finishing with ten points. Scoring all ten in the second half and overtime.
But the Titans couldn’t finish the opportunities behind their strong defensive performance over the final 16 or so minutes of the game. After going down 43-37 to West Salem two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Saxon defense matched the Titans intensity that led to an 11-5 advantage, a Lizzy Bennett split with 20.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the game up at 48 to force Overtime, remained tough in the overtime period.
Creating enough chaos that raised the blood pressure of both South Salem Head Coach Adrian Lewis and Katie Singleton with the Saxons hanging on for the 52-50 win. Halley Barrum hit a crucial free throw with 4.5 seconds left to help ice the OT victory.
“(West Salem) applied a lot of pressure there in that third quarter. Back-to-back third quarters against them that we really do anything, but our girls fight. It’s a big rivalry with West Salem and what Katie does, she does a really good job over there,” Lewis said of his South team. “My girls were ready, they wanted this. We’re healthy finally, we’re slowly coming back healthy and we’re being physical. That was my biggest question this year was can we stand up to that and we did that tonight.
“Bend is next, they’re third in the league I believe. We got a big one (next).”
The Titans hold the keys to the conference crown up a game in the league standings with one league loss to the Saxons two. Defeat both Summit and the Lava Bears and the conference title belongs to them, South loses once more and it’s the Titans. West splits and the Saxons win out with Bend and McNary, they’re both co-champions.
Bennet finished with nine points to Adams’ team-high ten. Lapray finished with a game-high 13, Barram (12) and Dustin (11) each scored in double-figures for the Saxons in the overtime game.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald