By Jeremy McDonald
SILVERTON, Ore.– Silverton and West Salem traded blows with one another Tuesday night that it was like watching a late round game in March Madness.
Each team knew the other wasn’t going to back-down to the other. The aggression, the passion, the willpower turned the non-league game to playoff mode in a hurry.
“This physicality is a big part of basketball, this is a good team and we knew that coming into it, so we just had to stay aggressive the whole entire game and not give up,” said the Titans Lizzy Bennett, who had 16 points in the game.
“It’s fun to play a game like that. We came in knowing we had two starters out for the first few games of the season, so we knew we had to come out and play aggressive and do whatever we could to score points and rebounds,” adds the Foxes Kyleigh Brown.
The Titans, who went on to win the game 47-39, swung first as they led 15-6 in the first quarter before Silverton responded. Taking a 24-22 lead early in the third quarter.
But that was when West Salem turned up the heat. Using their defense and stepping up their aggressive play a hair, they were able to use an 11-0 run to close out the quarter. Swinging the momentum into their favor going into the final frame.
“It was a huge part of the game when we basically took over and took that game after they went on their run. We just stayed mentally tough and that’s what won us the game,” Bennett said. “Our aggressiveness, not giving up, being physical, just staying mentally tough and not being afraid of going after them the whole game. Defense was tough, it was good today, our defense was good the whole game and we just had to warm up the offense since we started well on defense.
Silverton, playing in their first game of the season without two starters at full-strength in Justina Semerikov and Lily Hayashida playing due to injury. Semerikov getting a few minutes Tuesday while Hayashida is a few games away from being 100-percent herself, the Foxes did all they could in matching the aggression. And matching it well to boot without being at 100-percent as they drew West Salem in 41-37 with 1:59 left in the game off a pair of Kyleigh Brown free throws. The senior guard had a game-high 27 points as she helped lead the Silverton squad through the heated battles in their season-opener.
Knowing it was their first outing, Brown points towards the positive as they’ll prepare for Springfield on the road on Saturday, a 5pm tip-off.
“It was on-and-off (today), there were parts of the game where it was good, other parts where we weren’t focused on it. We just got to focus on it the whole game,” Brown said. “It was big (though), this is our first game to get all the jitters out. Getting better looks on offense, not rushing it and rebounding on the defensive end and knowing who we’re guarding, knowing what they’re good at. Winning the one-on-one battles.
West Salem head home Friday for their home opener against Mountainside, a 6:30pm tip-off.
Grace Hayashida had six points for the Foxes and Maddy Diaz contributed 12 points for the Titans in the win.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald