The most recent matchup between the Cottage Grove and Creswell girls basketball teams saw an almost identical finish to a season ago. In the last three matchups between both schools, the average margin of victory has been only four points.
This year the Lady Lions were able to etch out another close victory against the Bulldogs in a 47-43 win.
“It’s always good to snag a win,” said Cottage Grove Assistant Coach Connor Borigo who was stepping in as Head Coach while Erin Royse was unavailable for the game. “Especially coming back after our break, I think more than anything, it was a good win for us to get back into the swing of things and bring us back together.”
Cottage Grove was returning from a COVID-19 pause similar to their male counterparts and were in the middle of a four-games in five days stretch. While the Bulldogs were trying to get their first win against the Lions since their back-to-back wins in the 2014-15 seasons.
The contest ultimately came down to the final seconds after Creswell stormed back in the second half after the Lions led by 17 at halftime.
Gracie Arnold led the Lions in scoring with 20 points and Jaylee Lima also added 15 points. Samairah Quinones scored 17 for the Bulldogs while Emme Whitson added 13.
“This year’s game and last year’s game were nearly identical,” said Creswell Head Coach Tyler Hollingsworth. “Both games we came out and just looked frazzled by a little bit of pressure. And then both times in the second halves we initiated the pressure, and it becomes in our favor and this year how we play the second half is kind of how I anticipated to be in the first half, but we just didn’t come out with that fire.”
The first quarter started like any rivalry game will, with neither team gaining a real edge on the other. In the final minute of the first quarter, the game was tied at eight until a made shot by Cottage Grove and another made shot by Cottage Grove’s Jaylee Lima in the final seconds have the Lions a 12-8 lead going into the second quarter.
The Lady Lions found their groove quickly in the second quarter breaking open the game and going on a 16-0 scoring run in the first five minutes of the quarter. Cottage Grove’s lead ballooned to 24-8 before Creswell’s Quinones scored the first Bulldog points with just under three minutes remaining before halftime. The Lions kept their foot on the gas pedal as Arnold and Emma Hitt scored in the final minutes to give Cottage Grove a 17-point lead going into halftime up 33-16.
“Coach Hollingsworth was telling us at halftime that in the second half we needed to come out with tons of energy and passion,” said Creswell Senior Guard Emme Whitson. “The offense will come if we can get stops and keep them from scoring. And that’s what we did in the second half, we came out with more energy and flew around defensively. We gained confidence which made easier looks on offense and our shots started falling.”
After struggling on offense in the first half, the Bulldogs were able to get more buckets to fall in the third quarter. Whitson and Quinones sparked a quick 7-0 Creswell run to get the game back within 10 for the first time in the half. Cottage Grove made more shots to keep the lead at double digits 40-28 at the end of the third quarter.
The confidence was starting to build for Creswell as they continued to chip away at the Lions lead and eventually whittled the lead down to four with four minutes left in the game. Creswell’s Lauren Bailey and Karinna Leonard both fouled out in the following minutes of the game with Cottage Grove still holding a slim lead 43-39.
Arnold and Whitson traded baskets as the game approached the final seconds and the Lions still held the lead. Quinones was fouled a few moments later and knocked down two free throws to make the Lions lead only two with 47 seconds left.
After a Cottage Grove timeout, Arnold recovered a Lions missed shot and was subsequently fouled and made one free-throw to give the Lions back a four-point lead. With less than 20 seconds left Creswell needed a score but Quinones was blocked by Arnold and the Lions sealed the game in the final seconds.
“The win felt great,” said Cottage Grove Senior Forward Gracie Arnold. “It was a rivalry game and Creswell is a good team. After this week I think we need to focus on coming together and playing as a team as we start league play on Friday.”
Samairah Quinones 17 points, 6 rebounds
13 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists
9 points, 3 rebounds, 4 steals
Cottage Grove Tournament update
Following the Creswell game, the Lady Lions had two more games to play in the next two days. Cottage Grove played Mazama on Jan. 7 and Henley on Jan. 8. The Lions lost to Mazama 23-44 and also lost 43-56 against Henley. But despite the rough stretch of the past couple of weeks, Coach Borigo is still very proud of the way the girls played and feels ready have league play underway against Marshfield on Jan. 14 at 7:15 p.m.
“We pushed through some things that were holding us back,” said Borigo. “We came together as a team, we really figured out how to dog down. And it’s the small things that are going to make us a good team. It was good preparation, and we have some good teams in the league, that we also got to watch at the tournament, and we now know to prepare, we know what we need to do, individually and as a team, and playing against these tougher, more physical teams has definitely set us up for future success. And I’m really excited to see what happens against Marshfield on Friday, because I feel like the girls are really going to come prepared.”
Creswell vs Taft
Two days post the Cottage Grove game, the Bulldogs traveled to Taft searching for a win to end the week. Despite not anything going right for Creswell in the game the girls pushed it to overtime and were in it until the final seconds, Taft earned the 49-46 victory over Creswell in overtime.
“Defensively, we were flying around and getting turnovers,” said Hollingsworth. “We had 19 steals. But on offense, it was the weirdest thing Taft really didn’t pressure us that much and we had 36 turnovers. So, it was a tough one.”
The Bulldogs were slated to play this week against Cascade Christian and Scio but now have discovered a COVID positive within the program and will be now forced into quarantine. The next game Creswell is scheduled to play is against Pleasant Hill to open league on Jan. 19 if no more positive tests come up before then.