CRESWELL – It wasn’t the kind of game either coach had hoped for. Actually, at times, it was downright ugly, full of turnovers, poor decisions and sloppy play.
In the end, though, Creswell coach Jesse Thomas was glad to get away with a ‘W’ as the Bulldogs overcame a sluggish start Thursday night, Dec. 9 to defeat former assistant coach Trevor Daniels, who became Elmira’s head coach during the offseason, 54-42.
“He’s as good as they get at coaching skills and drawing up X’s and O’s, and he’s going to make that a winning program,” Thomas said. “Starting next year we face them twice a year, so I look for Elmira to be a tough, tough team these next few years.”
On Thursday night, Elmira grabbed a 10-5 lead after one period. Max Velarde finally heated up and keyed Creswell’s offense with 18 points. Velarde and Carson Williamson each pulled down 9 rebounds.
“That first half against Elmira, it was an emotional game for our guys going against Coach Trevor,” Thomas said. “We got open looks but nothing was going in. But we got them settled in and finally started making a few plays.”
While the Elmira game was a bit of a nail-biter, Creswell’s next victory hammered that nail home. Playing at Scio on Friday, the unbeaten Bulldogs (4-0) blanked their opponents for nearly two entire quarters on the way to a 67-27 triumph.
After leading only 18-13 after the first quarter, Creswell won the second quarter 20-0. The third quarter was almost as bad for the hosts, who hit a late 3-pointer but were still outscored 18-3 in the third quarter, as the Bulldogs surged ahead 56-16.
“Our press was effective early, and once we worked the lead out of our legs, we started rolling them over and forcing turnovers,” Thomas said.
Caleb Lee connected on 4-of-5 3-pointers and scored 16 points to lead another balanced scoring attack. Jack Nguyen and Connor Hanson scored 10 apiece, Velarde had 8 points and 5 steals, Williamson had 13 rebounds and 7 points, and Asher Parsons also scored 7 points.
Thomas said there seems to be an air of excitement about this weekend’s inaugural Bulldog Invitational.
“I think they’re excited to host a tournament – we’ve never done that,” Thomas said. “But I think they’re excited for every game now. We’re playing for each other and playing hard. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s encouraging to see the progress we’ve made.”