Carlton — Thursday night featured the debut of Yamhill-Carlton’s new “Tiger Dome”, a major project that gives the Tigers a brand new, earthquake proof home to play in. With the ribbon cutting ceremony in the books, the first varsity match between 2A #5 Central Linn and 3A #8 Yamhill-Carlton commenced. Although cold early, the Cobras picked away, locked down, and crashed the party at the “Tiger Dome” on Thursday night in Carlton.
This one started all Tigers, as Yamhill-Carlton forced five turnovers and broke open a 13-0 lead on Central Linn. A Ryleigh Nofziger trey broke the scoreless start and the Cobras flipped the script, finishing on a 9-0 run to end the quarter and making it a 13-9 deficit after one quarter. Ally Crowell hit a pair of free throws to close within 13-11, but three YC free throws extended the lead back out to 16-11 early in the second quarter.
The rest of the second quarter featured back and forth action, with both teams matching each other bucket for bucket, but the Tigers would hold a 26-17 halftime lead. Yamhill-Carlton’s Aliya Seibel led all scorers with 14 first half points, while Gracie Robb and Ryleigh Nofziger both led Central Linn with five points apiece entering the locker room. The Cobras had 17 first half turnovers to the Tigers six.
Hungry to close the gap, Central Linn opened the second half with intense defensive pressure, forcing Tigers turnovers and taking an 11-0 run to take the lead 28-26 over Yamhill-Carlton, highlighted by treys from Meg Neuschwander and Maya Rowland. After the Tigers tied it on an Aliya Seibel bucket, Central Linn closed the quarter with a near shutout and 32-28 lead.
Great defense continued to control the match for Central Linn, who slowly broke away despite the best Tigers efforts, as a Neuschwander trey, and clutch free throws by Rowland, Nofziger, and Jenna Neal put the icing on the cake. The Cobras outscored the Tigers 15-8 in the final quarter and took the road win in comeback fashion 49-36 against a ranked 3A opponent in Yamhill-Carlton.
With the first task of the year accomplished, Central Linn softball turned girls basketball coach Marcus Campbell discussed the second half defensive performance, the Cobras turnovers, and being ranked #5 to open the year…
Coach Campbell on Cobras defensive turnaround: “I told them after the game, “Getting the win is just icing on the cake.” If we would’ve fell short in a two or three point game, it would’ve been disappointing, but to come back and win the game was huge. First quarter was digging the hole, second quarter was closing the gap, the third quarter we take the lead, and fourth quarter is extending the lead. It was bad, then better, good, and then great.”
Coach Campbell on their 17 first half turnovers, “I predicted 25 turnovers, we’ve only got two seniors back, we’re starting two freshmen significant minutes, and they’re a really good, athletic team. I knew that at the beginning of the game we would get flustered, and it doesn’t mean I liked or welcomed it, but it was to be expected. We figured it out and got the win.”
Coach Campbell on being tabbed #5 in the coaches poll, “If you go out there with a winners mentality, good things will happen. We have a lot of things to improve on obviously, and the coaches poll is what it is. Its nice to acknowledged by our peers, but that puts a target on our back, and I’m fine with that.”
Central Linn (1-0) hosts Scio on Tuesday, Yamhill-Carlton (0-1) hosts Harrisburg on Saturday