Community, Creswell, Sports Zone

Billies come up big in I-5 tourney 

COTTAGE GROVE – Saturday night’s Battle of I-5 Holiday Tournament girls final was quite a test of wills. Crosstown rivals Pleasant Hill and Creswell weren’t backing down from one another. Ultimately, the Billies were able to stand up to that test, winning 53-46 behind Claire Crawford’s 27 points. 

The inaugural tournament, which included a boys competition at Creswell High – also won by Pleasant Hill – was a resounding success, as several games were decided in the closing moments. Plus, the players, coaches and fans were excited to have local holiday hoops. 

“This is a sweet deal,” Pleasant Hill coach Paxton Miller said after his team’s championship win. “The hospitality is great here. It’s fun to play early in the season, it’s good for team bonding, and it’s an opportunity to learn and get better early in the year.” 

KALLIE HANSEL-TENNES / THE CHRONICLE. Pleasant Hill’s Claire Crawford (35), who finished the title game with 27 points, goes up for a layup over Creswell’s Chloe Halgren.

The Billies (4-3) led the entire way Saturday. The Bulldogs (5-3) had their fair share of missed opportunities, including a missed layup early in the third quarter that would have tied the game. Later in the third, Pleasant Hill went ahead 41-31 on Angel Calva’s 3-pointer, but Creswell answered with a 3 by Dakota Carson.

The Bulldogs kept it close, twice cutting the margin to four during the game’s final three minutes, but Raigan Obie hit four free throws down the stretch to secure the Billies’ victory.

“They’re a really tough team. The way I described them to our team is they’re relentless, they’re not going to quit playing hard and I’m sure it will be the same the next two times we play them.”

“We’ve played some tough teams and I think it’s a good learning moment for us. That’s kind of what the non-league schedule is all about, trying to figure things out and fighting through some adversity. A little adversity never hurt anybody.”

The main difference between Pleasant Hill and Creswell was Crawford, the 5-foot-10 junior forward, who had 9 rebounds and 3 steals. She also had 27 points the night before, along with 17 rebounds, as the Billies overcame an 11-point deficit to defeat Marist, 43-38. In the tourney opener, she had 15 points and 10 rebounds in a 33-27 victory over Stayton. Obie had 8 steals in that contest.

“Claire has been asked to carry a lot of weight for us, and she really carried a lot of weight these last two nights,” Miller said. “I’m not sure how she does it. She is so tough. The cool thing is she’s just getting going. She’s just learning how to duck in and seal and how to get some high-percentage looks. I’m really proud of her and the whole group.”

Creswell coach Tyler Hollingsworth was proud of the way his team kept fighting.

“We’ve been down in every game. I think this is the first time we haven’t come back to take the lead,” Hollingsworth said. “We’re making good strides, we’re improving; we’re just not quite where we need to be.

“We haven’t had to guard a post like (Crawford) before. You don’t know who you’re going to play on the third day, but that’s hopefully something we can start to clean up.”

Carson led the Bulldogs in scoring all three nights of the tournament. In Saturday’s title game, the 5-5 senior guard had 18 points and Lauren Bailey added 11. In Friday’s 44-42 win over Taft, Carson scored 19, Elliette Kinney had 10 and Bailey added 8 points and 10 rebounds. In Thursday’s 55-24 rout of Douglas, Carson went for 15, Chloe Halgren contributed 12, and Lizabelle Osborn had 7 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals.

KALLIE HANSEL-TENNES / THE CHRONICLE. Creswell’s Dakota Carson winds up to shoot a jumper in the Bulldogs’ loss to Pleasant Hill last Saturday. Carson led the team with 18 points in the game.

Hollingsworth said he’s looking forward to seeing how his team practices during winter break.

“I’ve always said this is when you find out if you’re good or bad; you either improve, or you stay the same and everybody leaves you,” Hollingsworth said. “We’ll hopefully get better this break, then get into league (play) and get it going.”

Cottage Grove’s girls team also hosted and competed last weekend, losing to Taft 43-36, beating Douglas 46-24, and losing to Stayton 54-11 in the consolation finals. Jaylee Lima led all scorers with 11 against Taft and Payton Anlauf chipped in 10.



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