By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Two Keizer students at Salem Academy were pivotal in a win that put an end to the dominance of Blanchet High School in a longtime rivalry last week.
Tim McAvoy and Andrew Werst, both seniors, kept their team in the game in the final minutes en route to a 56-53 win.
“I don’t think anybody at the school who remembers the last time we beat them, and all four of our teams won,” McAvoy said.
McAvoy went on a baseline drive for two points and hit a trey to put the Crusaders ahead, but the Cavaliers battled back. Werst hustled to grab a loose ball and took it to the hoop. He was fouled and hit both of his free throws to put Salem Academy up by one in the final minute. Crusader Coen Acker put in the final points from the foul line to seal the win.
“It could have been anybody’s game and every one of their shots was like a punch in the stomach for me and the whole team,” McAvoy said. “But, every shot we made felt like 1,000 points.”
McAvoy had 16 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double. The win put Salem Academy at the top of the 3A PacWest Conference with a 10-1 record.
“Blanchet has always been a great team and it was great to get the win in a really fun game,” Werst said.
The team’s only loss of the season came to Blanchet earlier this season and they have only one game left. The Crusaders take on Chemawa Indian School Friday, Feb. 13, at Chemawa.
Werst credited the Crusaders’ tight team bond as the reason for their success this season.
“We have a pretty young team, but the seniors are as close to the freshmen as anyone else,” he said.
This season has been a special one for McAvoy. He was benched for his sophomore and junior seasons after dislocating his knees numerous times.
“I’ve been held back by injuries like that, but the Lord’s let me come back to play the game that I love with the people that I love,” McAvoy said.