The South Salem High School girls basketball team made an emphatic statement Tuesday evening.
The Saxons are the team to beat in the Central Valley Conference this season.
No. 7-ranked South Salem raced out to a commanding 13-0 lead and never let up in a 63-40 win at West Salem Tuesday to take over sole possession of first place in the CVC at 3-0.
For a South Salem program that has struggled to get over the mental hurdle of beating West Salem on the road the past couple years, it was a big step forward.
“We haven’t always played that way, but the first half of that game was probably the best we’ve played this year,” South Salem coach Nick McWilliams said. “I think that we because West Salem had always been a difficult team to play, especially here, that we had to be especially ready. They’re young, obviously, and lost a lot of their kids from last year, but we knew still it would be hard to play here.
“Our kids knew all that and just stepped up and played their best. We moved the ball well, we defended really well. We gave up 14 points at halftime, and it really shows what we’re capable of.”
Sophomore Jordan Woodvine scored 16 points in her first start, freshman Evina Westbrook scored 14 points and junior Katie McWilliams scored 14 for the Saxons, who improve to 11-5 overall
West Salem, which entered the game No. 21 in the OSAA’s power rankings, drops to 2-1 in the CVC and 7-8 overall.
The Titans have been the team to beat in the league for years, but are young this year.
“They’re tough for us to handle,” West Salem coach Jason Unruh said. “We lost 10 of our 14 girls from last year. That’s not an excuse, by any means. It’s a tough matchup for us, and they’re a really good team. We’re super young and inexperienced right now.
“I’m proud of my girls. They kept fighting and we actually outscored them in the second half. That’s where we said we wanted to have some pride and make sure we got something positive out of this.”
South Salem and West Salem split the league championship a year ago with each team winning on their home floors.
That South Salem lost both times they played at West Salem last season was not lost on the players.
“I think that after them kind of getting us the second time we realized we just needed to come out harder in the first half and be a first half and second team,” Woodvine said.
“We just needed to come out stronger and not with a mentality of they’re not going to be as good this year. They really are a good matchup. We just had to come out strong with it.”
After the Saxons’ 13-0 start to the game, the team lead 19-6 after one quarter and poured it on in the second going up 40-14 at halftime.
South Salem led by as much as 38 after a 3-pointer by Holly Martinez Moorman with 4:27 to go in the third quarter.
The Saxons performance Tuesday likely was their best this season, but the team still has room for growth.
“We have a pretty good amount of potential ahead of us,” Westbrook said. “We got to keep working and stay humble and work towards our goal.”
South Salem next hosts Sprague at 7 p.m. Friday while West Salem hosts North Salem.
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South Salem 63, West Salem 40
South Salem- Jordan Woodvine 16, McWilliams 14, Westbrook 14, Bodine 9, Martinez Moorman 8, Donovan 2, Wasser, McNally, Harley, Swanson, Sigado. Totals 23 12-16 63.
West Salem- Paige Whipple 10, Delaney Henery 10, Silbernagel 8, Gunesch 6, Hopper 5, Bowman 1, Olson, Foster. Totals 15 8-16 40.
SS 19 21 16 5-63
WS 6 8 11 15-40
3-point goals: South Salem 5 (Bodine 3, Martinez Moorman 2); West Salem 2 (Hopper, Whipple).