South Salem Rallies To Win Senior Night Over McNary

By Jeremy McDonald

SALEM, Ore.–  The South Salem Saxons found that one final gear on their Senior Night against McNary to pull off the 49-44 win over the Celtics.

A big win that will help propel the Saxons into the 6A State Playoffs and possibly give them a better match-up in the first round following being down 32-18 down in the third quarter of the game.  Ugly win for sure, but South Salem had come together as a team in those final minutes of the third quarter and into the fourth.  Cutting the 14-point lead to six going to the fourth and tying the game after Brook Tate’s three with 1:53 left in the game.  Avery Anunsen handed the Saxons the lead moments later with South Salem playing strong defense to close out the victory.

“It was a team effort.  Not only did the seniors want it, I know that the underclassmen really, really wanted it for our seniors.  It really means a lot for me and Carley (Petersen), Carley hasn’t really been able to play a lot, so for her to get onto the court and get some minutes and for all of us to work as a team…just really push and god, knowing we want to win and that’s what we did,” South Salem’s Maggie Lapray said.  “The biggest thing was our defense.  In the first half our defense was a little slow and a little sloppy, we weren’t getting rebounds and defense leads into offense.  That’s what our mentality was, we get a stop on defense, get a push, push the ball and get a good shot.”

The win was the third-in-a-row for the Saxons, and fourth in their last five to finish the regular season 11-13 and 7-5 in Central Valley Conference play going into the postseason.  Tate led the way for the Saxons with 12 points while Lapray scored ten points.

For the Celtics, it was a tough stretch to end the season.  Losing to West Salem and South Salem in back-to-back games has left a bad taste going into the postseason, but it does serve as a good lesson going into their first round game next week as well.  Ava Rubio led McNary with 13 points and Aspynn Westby contributed another nine points for a Celtic team that will be looking to flush out how this ending of an otherwise strong season to this point has been.

“It’s going to be very, very important and I think we’ll be ready for Tuesday, we’ll forget about these games but remember what we need to work on.  Improving on our defense and just handling the ball better.  There’s a lot of pressure, but it’s making us better in handling that and getting ready for Tuesday,” Westby said.  “(The last two games) have been tough, but they’ve been making us better and working harder.”

The rankings freeze Saturday night with the bracket being released by Sunday with the two squads waiting in anticipation of who they’ll play first in a few days.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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