Preseason boys’ basketball opened with the Bulldogs besting host Waldport 79-60 on Nov. 28, then edging host Horizon Christian 65-62 on Nov. 29 before competing in the Beau Classic Tournament hosted by Western Christian on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. There, the Dawgs defeated Chemawa 61-52 on Nov. 30 but were smoked by host Western Christian, 38-95 on Dec. 1.
”We got off to a pretty good start for four games in four nights, all on the road,” said Creswell Head Coach Jesse Thomas.
At Waldport, the Bulldogs led 23-16 after the first quarter, 40-29 at halftime and 60-41 after three.
”They struggled to guard us man-to-man; Tyler (Frieze), Tayler (Forsman) and Kai (Apo) all got to the bucket a bunch early, and we were able to get out in transition and get to the bucket,” Thomas said. ”Of our 79 points, 34 were off turnovers or in transition.”
Some defensive breakdowns and stellar three-point shooting by Waldport kept the Irish in it.
”Waldport made 11 threes, and only two were open; they hit a lot of tough, contested shots that I’m alright taking a chance on,” Thomas said.
And while Creswell also shot well, sinking five of 12 threes, ”We struggled defensively at times with poor communication and gave up some easy lay-ins,” Thomas said.
Apo paced Creswell with 19 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Frieze had 18 points and three steals; Forsman had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists; and Gauge Smith grabbed 10 rebounds.
At Horizon Christian, the Bulldogs’ 17-for-25 field goal and 9-for-19 three-point shooting boosted them past the Hawks.
”We did a good job of picking our spots and hitting a lot of open shots,” Thomas said.
Creswell led 19-15 after one but trailed 33-35 at halftime and 47-49 after the third.
Then Frieze poured it on, scoring 13 of his team-high 27 points – which included 5-of-7 three-point shooting – in the fourth quarter. He hit three threes on three consecutive possessions and went 4-for-4 on free throws.
”He really came on strong for us in the fourth quarter of a crazy game with a lot of back-and-forth,” Thomas said.
Apo had 23 points and six rebounds. Forsman added nine points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Against Chemawa in the Beau Classic, Creswell trailed 7-13 after one, led 27-26 at halftime after Apo’s buzzer-beating three, and led 39-36 after three before outscoring the Braves 22-16 in the final period.
”We got off to a slow, slow start and missed a lot of good looks in the first half – in the first quarter especially,” Thomas said.
Andrew Spence sparked the Bulldogs off the bench, knocking down two threes, and in the fourth quarter Forsman tallied 10 points and Frieze scored nine of his team-high 16.
Apo, Forsman and Dallton Dewey each scored 11 points; Forsman added six boards.
”Chemawa played really aggressive defense in the half-court – which led to open shots because we took care of the ball and got open looks; but we missed, and our defense suffered because we were missing shots,” Thomas said. ”Whatever’s happening on offense, our defense can’t suffer – and we defended much better in the second half.”
Against Westside Christian, ”we played about as poorly as we could possibly play,” Thomas said, citing 28 turnovers and poor shot selection as the Dawgs’ energy flagged.
”We were fatigued; we had nothing left,” Thomas said. ”Western Christian’s really good, and they just jumped on us right from the beginning.”
Creswell trailed 10-30 after one, 19-61 at halftime and 30-75 after three. Thomas called his first of three quick timeouts after Horizon Christian, then leading 3-2, hit a three, stole the inbounds pass for a lay-in, then stole the next inbounds pass for another lay-in to make it 10-2.
”No matter what we tried we just could not get set to our press break fast enough,” Thomas said. ”And when we did break the press, we took bad shots – then they’d get the ball and come down and make a good shot.”
Dewey led Creswell with 12 points, hitting four threes. Apo added 10.
”Western Christian really made us pay for every one of the many mistakes we made,” Thomas said. ”It was a rough one to get through, but it was good for us to get pounded to show us how far we still have to go, and how much we still need to work on to be where we want to be this season. We’re planning to work on some of those things before this week’s games.”
The Bulldogs travel to Toledo and host Scio and Jefferson this week. ”We finally get a couple of home games, which will be nice after another long road trip to Toledo,” Thomas said.