A Cottage Grove player is fouled as he drives to the basket late in the fourth quarter against Creswell. RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTO

CRESWELL – Playing against a young and outmanned Taft team, Creswell snapped out of its two-game funk, getting back on the winning track with a 62-35 victory Saturday night. 

“It’s nice to get a little confidence back,” Creswell boys basketball coach Jesse Thomas said. “But Taft wasn’t much of a test for us. We’re going to have to start playing better than this if we want to have a good season.” 

The Bulldogs got off to an 8-0 start, then lost 62-48 last week at Junction City (12-2), the top-ranked team in 4A. Oh well, there’s no crime in losing to the No. 1 team on their floor. 

Then came the grudge match Thursday night against Cottage Grove, which Creswell soundly defeated last season as Caleb Lee connected on 8-of-9 3-pointers, finishing with 30 points. 

But this time it was all Cottage Grove, as the visiting Lions cruised to a 60-42 win. 

“We hit a couple of shots early, but as the game went on, we never passed the ball more than three times, we had no energy … we really did nothing good all night long,” Thomas said. “We got completely dominated.” 

Lee again led the Bulldogs, but was the only double-figure scorer with 15 points. AJ Hodge added 8 points and 5 assists.

In the Junction City loss, Max Velarde paced Creswell with 15 points and 4 rebounds while Hodge added 11 points and 5 boards. 

Velarde had another big game in the Taft win, accumulating 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in only 17 minutes. Hodge and freshman Tyler Whitson each had 8 points and 5 rebounds.  

Thomas had hoped the Bulldogs, after having their unbeaten streak snapped, would respond with a strong effort against the Lions. 

Instead, they were more like “Puppy Dawgs.” 

“We need to work through this. This isn’t the first team we’ve had here where we’ve had to work through some issues. … We’re almost to league play. We don’t want to lose sight of the big picture and how much we put into this.

“What do you guys want to be? Do you want to be an average team? You know what it takes if you want to be a better-than-average team.”

The Bulldogs boys also have a Covid-required break in play this week.