After driving to the rack in the first quarter, Chance Bellew scores two of his team-high 18 points during Saturday’s state playoffs game against Oregon Episcopal School. GINI DAVIS – THE CRESWELL CHRONICLE
The road to the 2017-18 state championships ended for the Mountain Valley Conference first seed Creswell Bulldogs with a 46-63 state playoffs loss to visiting Oregon Episcopal School on Saturday, Feb. 24.
That result, suffered before a boisterous, near-capacity hometown crowd, was especially bitter for seniors Trey Magnuson, Chance Bellew, Jack Callahan, Eli Ream and Dylan Miller.
”It’s sad that it’s over for them, but the team doesn’t have anything to hang their heads about; we had a good year,” said Creswell Head Coach Jesse Thomas. ”We had an off game, and you can’t have an off game because at this level everyone’s good.”
The Bulldogs were chasing the Aardvarks from the early minutes. Creswell trailed 12-16 after one, 21-27 at halftime, and 33-42 after three. The Dawgs were down 10 with 4:37 remaining in the fourth quarter, and though they nipped closer a couple of times they couldn’t keep the gap from widening to its final margin.
”We were hesitant on defense early on; we just didn’t guard the ball very well and we couldn’t get stops,” Thomas said. ”We didn’t rotate very well, and we gave up too many lay-ups at the rim and too many offensive rebounds. But I appreciated their effort – they scrapped, they tried to fight back.”
With the Aardvarks’ reputation as a team that shoots ”a ton” of threes, Thomas added: ”If you’d told me before the game we’d hold them to just 2-of-6 three-pointers, I’d have thought we’d have won by 10 to 15 points.”
Bellew, who was the Bulldogs’ spark on both sides of the ball, paced Creswell with 18 points, five rebounds and two steals. Unfortunately, he spent the final few minutes of the game on the bench after receiving a technical foul.
”He played great; but it’s a program rule that if you get a technical, you sit,” Thomas explained. ”He plays with lots of energy, but it’s important to learn to keep your cool. It was just unfortunate.”
Magnuson added 15 points, five rebounds and three assists. Tayler Forsman contributed five assists and Kai Apo added three rebounds.
Colby Bullard led the Aardvarks with 19 points, including 12-of-16 free throws. Ian Holzman added 14.
MVC second seed Coquille also lost its state playoff game, falling 49-58 to sixth-ranked Cascade Christian to leave the league unrepresented at this year’s state championships.
”Our last straight 10 games were pretty darn good,” Thomas said, reflecting on the season. ”We showed ourselves as a team that could make it to state, and we gave ourselves a shot at getting to Coos Bay.”
While the team loses some key seniors, Thomas said the team is in good hands next year with returning varsity players and younger players coming up. ”There is definitely some talent coming up,” he said. ”I’m excited about what the next few years will look like.”