By Jeremy McDonald
PORTLAND, Ore.– The West Salem Girls Basketball team wasn’t going away without a fight.
At one point in the second quarter, the Titans trailed Willamette 25-11, only to get back within one with 2:56 left in the third quarter. A 19-6 run that had turned a possible blowout into a whole new ballgame at 31-30. Mady Diaz led the charge out of halftime with West Salem’s first five points that was followed by a pair of free throws by Trinity Holloway that brought West Salem back to one by that 2:56 mark.
“We were only down nine at halftime, we knew that we could come back and keep up with them. We played them in the preseason, that was a tough game and we knew we could keep up with this team and we really fought,” Diaz said. “I’m really proud. We were number ten in the Top 8 teams and we were underdogs every game, we fought every game and I’m super proud…super proud of everyone.”
Energy played into West Salem’s surge, challenging their opposition to make that adjustment with them knocking on the door in the fourth/sixth-place game. The Titans made the most of their first-ever trip to the Chiles Center, coming off of their 40-37 win over Tualatin back on Thursday to extend their season.
The Wolverines’ length and three-point shooting created issues early on as a Willamette three plus a pair of free throws had given the Eugene-base squad a 41-34 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Willamette lead was extended to 43-35 with 5:27 mark and back to double-figures with 4:35 remaining with the Wolverines clamping up when they needed to for the 60-45 win.
A tough way to end the season, tough way to end the game after how much effort they put into getting back into the game just a few minutes earlier. But nonetheless, they’re bringing home the first trophy in program history and setting the bar just that much higher for the program moving forward.
“It was great. We fought all season, this was our goal from the beginning of the season and we got here. It was a great opportunity and I’m hoping that they’ll get to come back next year,” Diaz said. “We just showed what we had, we went out there and left it on the court.”
Diaz went on to score 14 points with two rebounds. Lizzy Bennett led the Titans with 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Emma Zungia contributed another nine points. Isabella Harms led the Wolverines with a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double with four steals.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald