Sports Zone

CHS boys look to playoffs

Kai Apo fires off a three-pointer during the first quarter of the Pleasant Hill game. Gini Davis/The Chronicle

Creswell’s boys basketball team starts the postseason at home for the second time in three years, and this time as Mountain Valley League champs.
The Dawgs averaged a double-digit margin of victory over regular-season opponents.
However, losing to Creswell by more than 20 points twice earlier this season didn’t intimidate Pleasant Hill this past week. The Bulldogs overcame as much as a 15-point second-half deficit in a furious rally to send the game into overtime before ultimately losing.
The result reinforced head coach Jesse Thomas’ message to the team: Any team could beat them if their opponent brings their A-game and the Bulldogs don’t do the same.
”This loss definitely resets our mentality and reminds us that we have to guard, we have to get stops, and if we give up too many open shots and they start making them, it’s going to be a tough night,” Thomas said.
Creswell bounced back at Harrisburg, where the Bulldogs led by as many as 21 and senior Dallton Dewey went 7-for-11 behind the three-point line, a season record for the team. Two days later, the community ”Packed the House” to show support for Creswell as the regular season ended against Santiam Christian and the seniors were honored in their last home game.
As other leagues finish final games and tournaments, Creswell will have about a week and a half to prepare and heal for the state playoffs, a break that Thomas said is welcomed.
”Tyler (Atwood) and Kai (Apo) are almost fully recovered from their injuries but I don’t know a team that isn’t a little banged up at this point in the season,” Thomas said. Creswell finds out who its opponent is for its first-round state playoffs game Saturday, evening when OSAA freezes the rankings to put the brackets together.
”As long as we play our game at our tempo and come at every team with our best game, just as they will with us, then we’ll win like we did all season. We can’t control who we play but we can control how we play,” Thomas said.
While the boys are taking postseason game-by-game, the girls’ program is looking further into the future. After graduating seven seniors last year, Creswell has been rebuilding with only three upperclassmen and more than 50% of the team is in their first year of playing quality varsity minutes.
”We’re so young and all you can hope for is that they stay hungry and want to get better,” head coach Tyler Hollingsworth, adding that some of the girls have struggled because they played more of a freelance style while others need the structure which led him to implement five different offenses this year.
”We’ve spent a lot of time this year looking for the balance where they can successfully play together. One plan would work for a little while, then we’d have a different set of girls playing together and it would stop, sending us back to the drawing board,” he said.
”Next year we’re going to be young again – with the ability to throw one of any five offenses at opponents.”
Hollingsworth pointed to the team’s increase in free throw attempts, which averaged nine in non-league games and 17 in league play.
”That shows we’re becoming more aggressive offensively,” he said. ”If we can pair that with some of the mental toughness we’re growing into, being young isn’t going to be our pitfall, it’ll be a strength.”
He said this offseason might be more important than this past regular season.
”Offseason growth is the most fun to watch, and it shows how dedicated the girls are,” Hollingsworth said.



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