RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTOCreswell’s Carson Williamson makes a layup.
CRESWELL – Oftentimes during Creswell’s recently completed football season, junior quarterback Connor Hanson would awaken the Bulldogs from their doldrums whenever they needed a jolt.
Last Wednesday night, Jan. 19, as the Bulldogs opened conference play in basketball against Pleasant Hill, Hanson had a chance to stand in the spotlight again. First, he hit a 27-foot 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, tying the game at 27-all.
As the fourth quarter wound down, the game tied again at 56, Hanson drove in and shot a little floater. The ball went in and out as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
Hanson would get his shot at redemption in the extra period, and his perfect pass to Max Velarde with 10 seconds left put the Bulldogs ahead 61-60.
But Braedyn Cantrell of Pleasant Hill (13-3) drew a foul with 3.1 seconds left and calmly sank both foul shots to make it 62-61.
Hanson gave it one more try from just beyond halfcourt and didn’t miss by much. This was one Hail Mary that failed to connect.
Still, Creswell coach Jesse Thomas said the game never should have come down to a last-second shot.
“We didn’t defend in the halfcourt the way we normally do,” Thomas said. “And we were so impatient offensively, we never passed the ball more than three times on any of our possessions.”
Velarde led the Bulldogs (9-3) with 19 points and 7 rebounds while Hanson added 16 points, 3 assists and 3 steals. AJ Hodge had 10 points and 2 blocks, and Jack Nguyen contributed 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.
The Bulldogs have been struggling lately, but Thomas says they can right their ship.
“We’ll get there as long as they stay mentally focused,” Thomas said. “It’s not a talent issue – it’s more of a decision-making issue. They know the process and the formula needed to succeed. They just have to have the maturity and leadership to carry it out.”
Hanson showed his toughness by returning to the game in overtime after leaving just moments earlier with a severe cramp in his calf muscle. “I’ve seen a lot of cramps, but I’ve never seen a muscle cramp up like that one,” Thomas said. “For him to come back in the game was nothing short of incredible.”