PLEASANT HILL – The Creswell boys hit some dramatic buzzer-beating shots as they returned to the basketball court after taking a forced two-week hiatus.
However, those shots didn’t lift the Bulldogs to victory, as they were dealt a pair of 10-point losses, falling 56-46 at Pleasant Hill before dropping a 63-53 decision at home to La Pine.
On a bizarre play at the end of the first quarter against the Hillbillies, Senior Class Valedictorian Carter Cunningham lost the ball, stole it back, then banked in a 25-footer from the left wing at the buzzer to cut P-Hill’s lead to 17-16.
Then against La Pine, sophomore Max Velarde tossed in a running 35-footer at the halftime horn, trimming the Hawks’ lead to 29-25. Jackson Parker nailed a 3-pointer with 9 seconds left in the third, but La Pine maintained a 47-40 lead.
“Those were big shots for our momentum, and we were able to cut into their lead really quickly,” Bulldogs coach Jesse Thomas said. “But when you can’t string together stops on the defensive end, then you’re down 7-8-9 again, and with a young team it’s hard to sustain that level of focus.”
Going into the season’s final week, Thomas said the Bulldogs will focus on defense and rebounding.
“It was frustrating the way we lost both games, because we played hard,” Thomas said. “I know you can blame part of it on rust and lack of practice time. The effort has been there, but the execution has not been good. And it was even worse defensively and rebounding.
“We need to figure out a way to make rebounding and defense a priority, instead of a secondary thing.”
The Creswell girls went 1-2 for the week, losing to Sutherlin (65-30) and Pleasant Hill (44-24) before defeating La Pine (47-15).
A little lineup shift seems to have given the Bulldogs a spark. In the last two games, Samairah Quinones, a 5-foot-5 sophomore, after being moved to the post, responded with back-to-back 10-rebound games, including 5 offensive boards in each of those games — plus she scored a career-best 16 points against La Pine.
Junior Emma Maness, at 5-9 the tallest player listed on Creswell’s roster, moved to the wing, giving the Bulldogs their most potent perimeter presence.
But even though Creswell has a number of players who shoot well pretty consistently in practice, it doesn’t carry over to game day.
“This season we’re averaging .9 3-pointers a game,” Creswell girls coach Tyler Hollingsworth said. “We go 2-for-11, 2-for-10, 0-for-6 … we’re just not making them.”
Hollingsworth saw some silver linings in the losses.
“Sutherlin had a 6-1 post and a really good guard, but our defense was good against them,” the coach said. “They had 16 points off turnovers and 13 second-chance points – so that’s 30 points we gave them. But we competed, they’re one of the best teams in the state.”
With one week to go, Hollingsworth wants to end on a high note.
“I like where we’re going,” he said. “It’s a chance to finish strong … a good week to finish on.”