Creswell boys earn 4th place
COOS BAY – The Creswell boys basketball team entered the Class 3A tournament as the 7th-seed, but left as the 4th-best team in the state, winning the consolation bracket to claim the program’s best finish since 2019-20.
“I thought we played really well overall,” Creswell coach Jesse Thomas said. “The message after the quarterfinal loss was that we still had a lot to play for. I asked the guys, ‘Do you guys want to be done now?’… I posed the question and told them what was going to have to happen for them to win the consolation, and they went out and did it. I was pleased and proud of them for doing that, because it’s not an easy thing to do.”
In the quarterfinals, Creswell fell to No. 2 De La Salle North Catholic 63-51. Max Velarde scored 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, while Connor Hanson scored 12 and AJ Hodge chipped in 10 points and 7 rebounds. In the consolation semifinals, Creswell beat No. 3 Dayton 60-37 behind Hanson’s 17 points and 4 assists. Hodge scored 15, grabbed 5 boards and added 4 assists in the win. Finally, in the consolation finals Creswell beat No. 4 Banks 64-51 to claim 4th place. Hanson, who was 5-for-5 on 3-pointers, and Hodge led the way again with 19 points each, while Velarde had 14 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds.
The big four of Hanson, Hodge, and Velarde, along with fellow senior Jack Nguyen, played their final basketball games together. It was the culmination of many years of work, and Thomas said he couldn’t be prouder of the seniors’ accomplishments.
“I remember vividly when they were freshmen, we knew that they were a talented group,” he said. “Probably my favorite part of the whole year, but definitely of the tournament, was their reaction at the end of the last game …. It was special. They were all in tears, and they were all happy tears. I don’t think there’s really a better way it could have finished.”
Billies girls take first state trophy in 19 years
It was a storied season for the Pleasant Hill Billies girls basketball team, and a storied finish. After a 6-11 season last year, the Billies finished this year 23-3 and 6th place at state, the first state trophy in 19 years for Pleasant Hill High School, according to head coach Kim Beer.
“It was just a great experience overall,” Beer said. “We didn’t have any particular expectations going in. Obviously, everybody dreams of winning the championship, but in reality we just had hopes of bringing home a state trophy, and we managed to do that.”
In the quarterfinals, Pleasant Hill lost to No. 2 Sutherlin 52-34. Sophomore Claire Crawford led the Billies with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Cheyenne Green chipped in 9 points and 11 rebounds.
“In our league we had a lot of success in transition basketball, grabbing steals and getting down the court,” Beer said. “But you get over there, and there’s a lot of fast kids. So that didn’t come as easy as we were used to.”
In the consolation semis the Billies beat No. 6 Nyssa 49-42 in OT thanks to 11 points and 8 steals from Shyanne Fenley. Crawford had another double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. In the consolation finals Pleasant Hill fell to No. 4 Amity 42-27, with Crawford adding another double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Beer understood finishing the season on a loss was tough, but said he stressed to the team afterward just how amazing this season, and team, was.
“Of course everybody was disappointed that we lost that last game, but my main message was cheer up. We just brought home a state trophy! I mean, who would have guessed that at the beginning of the season?” Beer said. “I just really tried to encourage them to see that they really accomplished something here. … I know I was proud, and I know the parents were too.”
Pleasant Hill boys make back-to-back quarterfinals
Pleasant Hill went 0-2 at the state tournament, finishing in the 7th/8th-place slot for back-to-back years. Despite the two losses, it’s a sign of the direction the Billies program is going.
“It was a great experience, especially to be there a second year in a row,” said Darwin Terry, Pleasant Hill coach. “I couldn’t be more proud of the players, all of them. Our effort was great.”
Pleasant Hill fell in the quarterfinals to No. 1 Westside Christian 72-56. Gavin Inglish led the way with 21 points and 8 rebounds, and Matthew Nguyen chipped in 13 points. In the consolation semifinals, Pleasant Hill fell to No. 4 Banks 63-50, Inglish leading the way again with 23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
The Billies also took home the boys award for sportsmanship at the tournament, another testament to the program.
“We got a lot of compliments about how well behaved and nice the kids are,” Terry said. “I think it speaks volumes for the players in our program to take away the Sportsmanship Award.”
Girls – 2nd team: Claire Crawford, 10, Pleasant Hill
Boys – 2nd team: Gavin Inglish, 10, Pleasant Hill
Boys Sportsmanship Trophy: Pleasant Hill Billies