ADAIR VILLAGE — It was Santiam Christian early on that looked like it was the team playing its fourth game of the season Tuesday night, not Toledo.
Despite having less than a week together due to a run to the 3A football state championship game, the Eagles were running and gunning their way to a big early lead in the season opener.
Santiam Christian settled down its pace but never surrendered their advantage in a 71-61 win in a nonconference boys basketball game.
“At times we looked good and at times we looked like we only had four practices,” Eagles coach Dennis McLain.
Ten of the 13 varsity players on the SC roster had their first basketball practice last Thursday after getting a few days off after the basketball season. Tryouts were held last Tuesday and Wednesday, and the first practice with the entire varsity together was last Thursday.
Still, SC jumped out to a 24-14 lead after one quarter thanks to a smothering defense, forcing seven Toledo turnovers, and a fast tempo.
“I think we did for the first game,” said senior forward Will Smith, who had a team-high 14 points. “When our team doesn’t know what to do at least we’re going hard, at least we’re going 100 percent. We did well for only having four practices.”
Daniel Hendrix’s long 2-pointer capped a 6-0 run that gave SC a 32-19 lead midway through the second quarter. Toledo (1-3), last year’s 2A state runner-up, would close fast and cut the deficit to 38-31 at halftime.
The Boomers got within five midway through the third before the Eagles got consecutive baskets from Brady Patterson, Josh Swigart-Risinger and Smith to take an 11-point lead to the fourth.
SC started the final quarter on a 7-3 run to put the lead to 15. Toledo got no closer than three from there.
The Eagles got balanced scoring behind Smith, with 12 from Patterson, 11 from Hunter Bain and Dru Draper and seven apiece from Hendrix and Swigart-Risinger.
“You never know game to game, and that’s a good thing about having guys who can all score.” McLain said. “It depends on who gets hot what game It makes it harder to figure out who to stop. Hopefully we can feed whoever gets hot.”
Despite a late start, SC has six more games to prepare for its Jan. 5 West Valley League opener at Willamina.
Toledo senior guard Isaiah Marchant, a second team all-state selection last season, had 25 points, including four of the Boomers’ eight 3-pointers. The Eagles had seven 3s, two each from Draper and Patterson.
SC returns six players from a team that finished 17-10 overall and tied for second in the WVL at 10-4. The Eagles finished their season with a 50-44 loss to Salem Academy in a 3A round of 16 game.
Smith was a second team all-league pick.