By Jeremy McDonald
TIGARD, Ore.– Tough way to start the season. Lexi Herber and Celia James both were out with injuries for the tournament, challenging the Salem Academy to once again adjust their lineup.
It felt like deja vu from last year’s Westside Winter Jam when two of their key players went out the first day of the tournament. Thankfully, this time around, Herber and James will be back soon, though it served as good practice for the Crusaders in the situation.
And though as tough as it was, the 2A State Runner-Up from this past season rose to the occasion and won the girls bracket. Going 3-0, finishing up the perfect weekend with a 40-24 win over Trinity Luthern, pulling away over the final quarter-and-a-half to hand the Saints their first defeat of the young season.
“Our guards really stepped it up and took their place and got it to our post with me and Aly (Herber) and made us work. We definitely needed to box out, but me and Aly are strong post and I think we can work on our rebounding, but I think it’ll be good for the rest of the season,” starts Haley Ferry. “It will help us a lot. Last year we lost two starters in this tournament and it helps us build intergerity and preparing ourselves for injuries because you never know when that’s going to happen.”
Saturday’s Championship game saw an aggressive game. Trinity Lutheran’s press and collapsing of the paint slowed Salem Academy’s offense to a crawl. 14 points were scored by the Crusader offense that had scored 121 the first two games of the tournament coming into the game. The Salem Academy defense however, played strongly in making sure they weren’t going to be playing comeback ball in the second half as they led 14-10 going into halftime.
Something click though for the Crusaders in the third quarter, seeing the lead down to two up 15-13, as they began to make shots and started to build momentum. By the end of the third quarter, they led 31-20. The biggest lead by any team in the contest as the two squads, both ranked in the coaches polls with Salem Academy first in 2A and Trinity Lutheran seventh in 1A, as it went into the fourth.
It was that momentum that carried the Crusaders through the finish line. Outscoring the Saints 25-11 to close out the game for the Championship Win and a 3-0 start to the year.
“Yeah we’re excited. We’re excited for Bandon this weekend. A lot of practice getting into it. Great team. We got to scout them and get our plays ready to go and we’ll be ready,” Ferry said, who had 16 points and 16 rebounds in the win.
The Tigers are coming from the coast to play both Gervais (Friday) before taking on the Crusaders Saturday in a college-like road trip for a Bandon team that finished fifth in 2A last season Time for the Bandon-SA game will be at 1pm on Saturday.
Aly Herber had ten points and seven rebounds. Sophie Pass had five steals for Salem Academy.
Photos by Jeremy McDonald