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Colton took Salem Academy to overtime in an action-packed matchup for the Vikings' senior night game Thursday

Other than perhaps taking home a win, one couldn't ask for much more drama and excitement in the Colton boys' basketball team's senior night matchup against Salem Academy Thursday.

Colton recognized five seniors before the game – Evan Rasor, Dawson Hall, Kreygan Raasch, Seth Bruesch, and Alejandro Alvarez.

The Viks kept pace with the Crusaders in the first quarter thanks to nine points from Rasor and a pair of three-pointers from junior James Parker, who led the team with 30 and 21 points on the night, respectively.

Colton slowed down a little bit in the second quarter as Salem Academy junior Hayden Wakefield continued his hot performance that saw him sink five three-pointers in the first half. But Rasor kept pushing and driving to the basket, connecting on a number of acrobatic layups to keep Colton in it, down just 29-34 at the half.

The Viks were down a starter as junior Javontae Maes was out with a rolled ankle, but their conditioning showed as they battled to the end despite a smaller rotation.

"Our defense played really well tonight, and even though [Salem Academy] was making a ton of shots, we switched it up in the second half and went man, and I think that took Wakefield out of it a little bit … he wasn't as effective as he was in the first half," Kishpaugh said. Wakefield had just four points in the third quarter after scoring 19 in the first half.

Colton came out firing in the second half as Rasor and Parker drained a pair of statement three-pointers to take a two-point lead.

But then a bit of foul trouble for Colton sent Salem Academy to the free throw line midway through the third quarter; the Crusaders took advantage and sunk six-for-six foul shots for a six-point swing to put them up again 40-36.

Rasor wasn't going to let that stick for long, however, as he sunk another three to make it a one-point game again. Then as the quarter progressed, Hall hit a clutch layup with 1:10 left to make it 46-44 Salem Academy, but another layup and free throw from the Crusaders gave them a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter was Colton's best offensive performance of the night as they scored 20 points compared to Salem Academy's 15 as nearly every Viking contributed to the effort, with six players scoring in the quarter.

Colton took the lead about two minutes in as Parker hit a pair of layups and then grabbed a steal, finding sophomore Wyatt Earls under the basket for a quick six-point swing to give them a 52-51 lead.

But Wakefield wasn't done yet as he hit a crucial three-pointer at 5:10 to take a 56-52 lead. Hall answered back, however, with a three-point play as he drew an and-one call and sunk the free throw to make it a one-point game again. Shortly after, Rasor missed for three but Hall kept it inbounds and found Earls under the basket for a layup to put the Viks up 57-56.

Then a Colton steal led to Rasor racing down the court for a wide open look at the basket, but his layup attempt trickled just short of falling in, keeping the game at one point.

But Rasor redeemed himself with a putback off of Parker's three-pointer attempt at 3:12 to take a three-point lead, and then Rasor grabbed yet another steal and converted on the fast break layup to go up 61-56 as Salem Academy looked to be faltering as two minutes remained.

But a crushing over-and-back call against Colton gave Salem Academy the ball back with 43 seconds left; sophomore Luke Miller was sent to the line as the Crusaders hit the double bonus, and he made both free throws to close Colton's lead to just one point. Salem Academy tied it up at 62 shortly after as Colton called a timeout, and then Hall was sent to the line after, making both free throws with five seconds left to take a two-point lead, the win within grasp.

It appeared to be all over as Salem Academy passed the ball out of bounds, but Miller stole Colton's next inbound pass and raced towards the basket, sinking a layup at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.

"We made enough plays to win it, we just needed to make one more," Kishpaugh said. "It's just tough."

In overtime, Colton couldn't get much going in the way of an offensive attack, as Hall and Parker were the only two players to score, with four points each. Salem Academy kept their momentum going, however, and connected on a big three from Wakefield, along with three doubles and a pair of free throws from freshman Benett Bos and two more free throws from Miller to outscore Colton 13-8 and win the game.

In the end, the game didn't matter when it came down to league standings; Salem Academy had already secured third place outright, but it was still senior night, and Colton played to win.

"It was a tough loss, it felt like we had it," Kishpaugh said. "Overall I think we played pretty well, it just would've been mice to get the cherry on top."

It's not over yet for Colton, however, as they still have a shot to make the Class 3A playoffs. They'll take on Scio at home at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, and if they win, they'll take on the loser of the Salem Academy-Jefferson matchup to determine who will get the third spot in the PacWest Conference.

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
503-829-2301 ext. 341
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