By Jeremy Mcdonald
SALEM, Ore.– It was one of those games where nothing was falling, nothing was going Dayton’s way and were faced with a 29-22 deficit to Western Christian in the Crusaders Classic Boys Green Bracket Championship Game at Salem Academy Friday night.
Momentum was against them as the young Pioneers squad, led by Gavin Hall’s 11 points, and Western Christian were looking for the final blow against the Pirates, up nearly ten to start the final frame.
But as fate would have it, needing a basket, needing a spark, it came away from junior Boston Hodges. Going to his go-to of the mid-range jumper, slowly Dayton crept back into the game.
Eventually taking the lead with 5:27 left off a Caleb Primbs shot to take a 33-31 lead. All of a sudden, the game seemed to be easy. Coming to the Pirates as their new lead slowly grew and grew as Dayton found that wind for their sail that capped the 46-31 win. Turning the bad juju of the first three quarters into the positive momentum by games ended as both teams closed out the non-league slate and showed that they can step-up and face that adversity head-on.
“I like the mid-range (shot) and they were giving it to me, so I pulled up and I hit one. So I was like, ‘let me see if I can hit another…ok I’m going to keep shooting’,” Hodges said. “We’re down, we’re losing and we’re going into the fourth quarter and we have to step up. We got to keep our heads up because we’re a good team, so we kept our heads up and kept scoring points.
“This will help us a lot in the long run playing teams in that if we play badly, then in the fourth quarter we can step it up.”
For Western, it was a good learning experience. They were right there, facing closing out a great team with the inexperience that they have. With the Tri-River Conference starting this next week when they host Willamina on Wednesday, the defeat came at the right time for them.
“Our offense, our movement was a lot better. I don’t know, our movement was staigent and we missed a lot of shots,” Hall said. “We can use (this game) in a good way because playing tough games like Dayton, who is tough, it teaches us to be physical and just closing out games. It just teaches us that we need to close out our games and not get anxious in crunch time.”
The Pirates open PacWest Conference play Tuesday at Taft.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald