By Jeremy McDonald
HARRISBURG, Ore.– Gretchen Orton came back into the game at the start of the fourth quarter after sitting out practically all of the third quarter due to an cramp to her leg she received early in the frame Friday afternoon against Oakland.
With the Oakers rallying, Orton served as a spark plug for the Lions, who were leading 30-22, starting with a free throw split 24 seconds into the fourth quarter. Fighting for steals and setting up the offense at the point, Jefferson looked more comfortable with her back in the game alongside her teammates.
“I just knew that after an injury everyone gets all scared and out with their focus goes out. So I wanted to get in there to focus everyone back up,” Orton said.
The Lions jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the second quarter, but slowly Oakland clawed back into the game. Their press defense caused headaches against their former 2A league opposition, serving as a good early season learning experience going forward with their schedule. Especially when PacWest Conference-play starts next month.
“It helped as a lot and it’ll help us with the games to come with breaking the presses for the majority of the game. We’ll have to do that against tougher teams in league,” Amira Saad said. “I like how we’re finally working together as a team more than the first couple of games. It was rough, we weren’t passing the ball…but it’s working much better now we’re moving the ball around. (Oakland’s) a scrappy team too so it was a little rough, but it was good.”
Saad contributed 11 points in the 41-28 Jefferson win while the younger Orton on the roster in Gretchen led the team with 16. And those final six points came at a crucial point in the game as the Oakers had the game down to 32-28 with 5:15 left in the game. But with back-to-back three-pointers at the 4:52 and 4:06 marks in the fourth quarter by Orton, it rebuild the Lion lead to more of a comfortable level coming down the stretch.
“It felt nice. Getting back into the groove with the ball. I’ve been hitting my shots all game, so I thought it brought everyone back up,” Orton said. “Definitely talking on defense (more), it’s going to be big because the first couple of games we were a little bit rusty and a little bit odd together. But I think we’ve gotten into the groove and I believe if we work hard and work together, it’ll be good.”
The Lions play in the Harrisburg Tournament Championship at 4:30pm Saturday evening. Kalyn Busciglio and Rylee Williamson each led the Oakers with six points in the game.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald