By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Blanchet Catholic held up the Western Christian offense pretty fantastically in Friday’s Tri-River Conference game at home. Studying film and the Pioneers plays through that to identify how they were going to get the ball to their shooters for points at the end of the possession.
Normally a second half team points Abby Weber, the Cavaliers came out rocking-and-rolling in the opening 16 minutes. Holding Western Christian to four points through the first 11-and-a-half minutes in a 4-4 game at that point and were down 10-8 going into the second half.
“I think it worked for us a lot in the first half and I think the second half they picked up what we were doing a little bit and they changed it. We got rocked off our feet and I think they outhustled us, props to them we just need to work on it a little more,” Weber said.
Blanchet actually held an 8-7 lead going towards the halftime buzzer before Western Christian’s Runon Muroya, a freshman from Japan, hit the go-ahead three-point shot when the buzzer rang to give the traveling Pios squad the slight advantage at the break. It was one of three three-pointers for the freshman, who finished with 15 points in the game and it gave Western an sense of confidence going into the third quarter where they just built upon that first half ending bucket.
“It was good,” said Muroya of the go-ahead three.
“She’s a great addition. She’s a great little freshman and we love having her on our team and we’ve embraced her a lot. But it was a big energy boost for us to go,” senior Madi Nicoli said of Muroya. “We didn’t come out the best we could, but we definitely finished with all we had. I think with her making those three’s, I think it was one of the best things to get our energy going.”
It was like a snowball effect following that three-point shot by Muroya. Slowly the offense started to click to back their defense. The 10-8 halftime lead became 20-10 and then 24-10 by quarters end. That 14-2 third quarter swung momentum fully into the Pioneers favor with Western Christian sustaining that energy into the fourth quarter, capping a strong finish after seemingly a rough start to the game.
“That second half was big because it found our rhythm and our way going into next week. We have two games next week, we play Crosshill (Christian) Tuesday and Salem Academy on Thursday. It’s a big push for energy coming from those two games. Each team we play each night is the best competition we’ll have that night, so we have to play to our best capability and as a team each night,” Nicoli said.
Nicoli finished with 12 points for the Pioneers who head to Turner to play the 1A Eagles. Weber finished with 11 as Blanchet travels to Willamina Tuesday night. Lindsay Arritola and Paola Diaz-Hermosillo each had four points for the Cavs.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald