Creswell, Pleasant Hill, Sports Zone

Creswell girls’ defense drives playoff run

CRESWELL – After losing their first battle against Coquille to open the season, the Creswell Bulldogs girls avenged that loss Saturday night, winning 61-41 to advance to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. According to head coach Tyler Hollingsworth, the win was a testament to how far the team has come since their first game.

“It’s super sweet. I’ll lose the first one if I can get the last one going to state every time,” Hollingsworth said. “We knew they were going to be tough. To me it’s kinda one of those tests, when both teams have the rest of the season to prepare. (It shows) maybe just how much better our girls got.”

How’s this for better? The Bulldogs never trailed in the game, thanks to players’ high intensity on defense, the coach said.

“We really emphasize our defense. We said today is going to be a battle of defensive effort,” Hollingsworth said. “I said, ‘They’re going to be gritty and they’re gonna be physical, but let your defense dictate the game, and the offense will come.’”

The offense came in the form of junior guard Dakota Carson, scoring 20 points.

“She’s huge for us,” Hollingsworth said. “She puts in work every day for an hour in the morning before school starts. You don’t know when the moment is coming for that to pay off, but I thought tonight was a big night for that.”

Creswell’s Chloe Halgren (left) and Dakota Carson embrace after the Bulldogs secured a spot in the quarterfinals. 

The Bulldogs face Sutherlin on Thursday at 8:15 p.m at Marshfield High School  in Coos Bay. For Hollingsworth and the Bulldogs, it’s an opportunity to showcase their strengths. 

“They’re big, so we have to use our speed and athleticism to our advantage. We have to try to make the game faster and not so half-court (focused) because they have two bigs that are gonna be hard to deal with.”

Billies fall to Nyssa

The sixth-ranked Pleasant Hill Billie girls faced off against No. 11 Nyssa on Saturday afternoon, falling 33-22. With a strong defensive effort for both teams, the Billies’ offense was unable to break through to take the lead. 

“Just really proud, and grateful to be able to coach a group like this,” Billies coach Paxton Miller said. “A group that’s willing to do the hard things, and take punches, and continue to fight. Tonight we just couldn’t put the ball in the cylinder.”

Pleasant Hill’s Claire Crawford (35) battles in the paint as three Nyssa defenders converge. Crawford, the back-to-back Mountain Valley Conference player of the year, was held to only 2 points in Pleasant Hill’s 33-22 loss.

The loss caps off Miller’s first season with the team, finishing 17-7, and 12-0 in regular-season league play. While it is only the beginning for Miller, this marked the final game for the lone senior, Raigan Obie.

“She’s about all you can ask for in a senior. Talk about leadership and ways to lead, she leads by example every day. That’s what you look for in a senior. It being my first year here, I wish I could continue to coach Raigan, but I’ve told her before, and I’ll tell her again on Monday, that I am so grateful that I was able to have her for one season,” Miller said. “I want to make one thing clear to her, and anybody who is willing to listen: her impact on this program will be felt for a long time after she’s gone.”

The Billies girls trailed by as little as five points late in the fourth quarter before Nyssa pulled ahead to win by 11.

“The toughest part of this deal is that you can give everything you have, and empty your gas tank – and they tried to do everything we were asking of them today – but you can do all those things and still not get the result you want. But I’m really proud of them,” Miller said.

Pleasant Hill freshman Karsyn Stapleton gets ready to shoot a free throw in the Billies’ season-ending loss. The Billies finished with their second-lowest score of the season.

Looking back, Miller said this season was defined by one thing: perseverance.

“This loss stings, but the body of work and how we overcame some things that didn’t go our way (this season) was really quite remarkable,” Miller said. “One through 12 or one through 14 on our roster, they all played a huge part in that.”

Girls Basketball Recaps

■ Cottage Grove earned a postseason berth a season after winning only four games with a 54-42 win at No. 15 Scappoose in a Class 4A play-in game. The Lions were led by three players in double figures: Mariah Bailey with 18 points, Jaylee Lima with 12, and Payton Anlauf with 11. Cottage Grove outscored Scappoose 22-4 in the 3rd quarter.

■ Springfield recaptured a bit of momentum heading into the postseason with two dominant wins last week – 85-22 at Thurston and 80-41 at Eagle Point. The Millers finished the regular season at 17-8 overall and 10-2 in Midwestern League play after two losses to No. 2 Crater.

■ Thurston faced the top two teams in the league last week, losing to No. 5 Springfield 85-22 and No. 2 Crater 69-31.



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