By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– South Salem gave West Salem all that they had Monday evening at West Salem High School. The Saxons were just starting their Central Valley Conference slate while the Titans were coming off their first conference win on Friday against North Salem.
The Titans, playing without Lizzy Bennett, who was out and not feeling well, jumped out to a 7-2 lead before the Saxons tied it up at nine by the end of the opening quarter. South Salem’s without Carley Peterson themselves, who suffered a hand injury in the Capitol City Classic before the Christmas holiday, but made do as they continued to battle. Leading 23-22 at the halftime break with the squads continuing to be neck-and-neck tied at 25 early in the third quarter.
West Salem brought the pressure and South adjusted for the most part to keep the game within reach.
“It was hard work and we gave it our all out there with a lot of effort and it was really big for us to hold our own. It shows us how we can compete with teams like West Salem because they’re a pretty good team and showing them who we are as South,” Emma Burlison said. “I feel like we had a lot of effort in this game and we played really well and we gave it our all.”
Burlison had hit a clutch three-pointer with 61 seconds left in the game that drew the Saxons back to within one of the Titans at the moment 45-44, capping a 14-7 stretch that came off of West Salem’s own stretch to get the lead in the first place.
The Titans knew they’re going to get every team’s best in league play coming off of last season’s successes as they had an important stretch when the game was knotted up at 25 to help weather South’s late rally. Using a 7-0 run to take a 32-25 lead in the third quarter.
And thanks to that stretch, they put the pressure more on the Saxons to do something and initially they were just able to do that, leading 38-30 with 6:45 left in the game and looking to push their lead to double-figures.
But what came with that 14-7 stretch by South Salem to make this a one-point game, came the chance to face adversity. Geez, they faced it all game it seemed like and they once again rose to the occasion as they turned to Mady Diaz and Rebecca Patino to ice the victory at the line. The senior-freshman duo went 4-for-4, each hitting a pair of free throws, to thwart
“It was big, we’ve been struggling a little bit, but we were able to come on out and get it done,” Diaz said. “We knew from the beginning that it was going to be a tough game. Everytime against South, it’s a big game, it’s always competitive and we were able to get the job done. Everyone wants to beat us but we’re out here working hard and trying to get the wins.”
Diaz finished with 12 points Emma Zuniga contributed another 11 points in the win. Burlison had nine points for the Saxons as Maggie Lapray had a game-high 14 points in the defeat. South Salem hosts Sprague, who defeated North Salem 47-30 Monday, on Thursday at 6:30pm. The Titans are off until next Monday where they travel to play the Olympians at 6:30pm as they have won four of their last five games.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald