CRESWELL – During their first six games, all victories, the Creswell coaches kept cautioning the players that pretty soon they were going to have to fight their way out of a big hole.
That time arrived Saturday night, in the championship game of the inaugural Bulldog Invitational.
After overcoming a 10-point deficit, Creswell (7-0) held off Siuslaw for a 64-58 tournament title win.
One key sequence occurred at the 4:20 mark of the second quarter when Siuslaw’s Braydon Thornton missed an attempted dunk, but teammate Avery Hart was right behind him with a tip-dunk.
The two seniors hugged and celebrated, almost until they reached about halfcourt, as the play put the Vikings ahead 26-18.
But the play seemed to spark Creswell more than it helped the visitors. Even though Siuslaw stretched its lead to 30-20, the Bulldogs then went on a 21-0 run to take a 41-30 edge.
“When we went into halftime it was like we had just lost the game,” Creswell coach Jesse Thomas said. “I was yelling about the guy being in the cylinder (on the dunk).
“It was intense. I had to remind them they were only down 2, after they were just down 10. … We were worried about how they were going to respond, but we made enough big plays and played good defense. Jack (Nguyen) and Chase (Green) were both so good for us defensively in this game.”
Once again, the Bulldogs got a balanced scoring effort, as Max Velarde scored 14 points and ripped down a game-high 15 rebounds. Green and Caleb Lee contributed 12 points apiece, and Nguyen had 6 points, 5 steals and 4 rebounds.
Against Monroe, Velarde also led the way with 19 points and 8 rebounds while Connor Hanson had 17 points, 6 steals and 4 assists. Lee scored 15 points and freshman Tyler Whitson added 10 points, 6 rebounds, 6 steals and 4 assists.
Velarde and Hanson made the all-tournament team.