ADAIR VILLAGE — By the halftime break, the boys basketball game between Amity and Santiam Christian looked every bit of a battle between one-loss teams playing in a West Valley League opener.
If anything, Amity was getting the best of the Eagles and held a five-point lead to show it.
Then came the third. The Eagles flipped a switch and wound up blowing by the Warriors for a 60-45 win.
SC (9-1) coach Dennis McLain said the slow start could have been due in part to a week and a half layoff, but the Eagles did struggle because of Amity's play.
The Eagles trailed 29-24 at the half. The Warriors were hitting the offensive boards hard, hustling to loose balls and throwing a few defensive wrinkles at SC.
"They were way more aggressive than us and they got a lot of offensive boards that gave them a lot of second-chance points and we got some fouls and free throws and that really hurt us," McLain said.
"They were switching (defenses) back and forth and so we couldn't really get a real fastbreak going and we weren't sharing the ball real well in that first half. We were kind of going more one on one."
The Eagles fell behind 36-24 early in the third and McLain was forced to call a timeout.
He stopped the game in hopes of interrupting Amity's momentum and to spark a rally.
"Called a timeout and talked to them and just to remind them that this was going to be a long half just like the first one if we continued to do that," he said.
The timeout worked wonders.
The Eagles went on a 12-0 run and then finished the quarter on a 23-5 roll sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers by Zach Baugher and a 3 by Grant Carley for a 47-41 lead.
SC picked up its rebounding and defense, holding Amity to one shot attempt on most possessions.
"We played a lot better defense, we were a lot more intense and we blocked out, we got the rebounds and we started pushing the ball. That really helped us," Zach Baugher said.
"We were way more focused. We executed the offense and that helped us hit shots because we were running through our offense in sets. We were cutting harder, we were hitting the cuts and we could see them because we were just more focused. We came out flat in the first half."
The Eagles stayed sharp in the fourth, outscoring Amity 13-4 and keeping the clock moving on each possession.
SC did a strong job of keeping the ball against some tough defense throughout the second half.
It helped that the Eagles had a good turnout and were energized by the fans.
"In that second half we didn't have as many turnovers as we did in the first half," McLain said. "We were able to control the ball a little bit better even though I think they were playing even more aggressive defense in that second half, we were able to keep out turnovers down. So that was big for us to keep our turnovers down and look for that open guy and hit shots, which was great."
The win meant a strong start to the league season for the Eagles, who are most likely going to find stiff competition from 11-1 Dayton along with 9-2 Amity.
"Any win's a big win and obviously the first league game, so that's huge for us," Zach Baugher said. "It gives us a ton of momentum. We've just got to keep staying focused."
SC takes on Willamina at home on Friday.