For Head Coach Jesse Thomas and the Creswell boys basketball team, the start to their season could not be more ideal. In the first week of the season, the Bulldogs picked up wins against Douglas and North Bend to start their season 2-0. Defense has been a heavy focus for coach Thomas and his players this season as the team has only given up a combined 36 points per game in their first two contests.
“I think all those kids have bought into having a defensive mindset first,” said Coach Thomas. “Everybody cares about offense, and I know that. But I think what the guys are starting to realize and what they definitely realized against North Bend, is that if you’re great defensively, the offensive end is so much fun because you’re in transition, you’re in the open court and you’re going wide open shots.”
Easy buckets started to come for Creswell after Coach Thomas debuted a full court press against North Bend causing them to turn the ball over often and getting Creswell’s Chase Green, Max Verlarde, Caleb Lee and Carson Williamson out in transition. The Bulldogs shot 46 percent from the field and 57 percent from the three point line as they cruised past North Bend 67-29.
“We were able to force turnovers and we were able to get stops,” said Thomas. “I think we just kind of got our energy level up and we were getting deflections and they (North Bend) were missing shots and Max (Verlarde) got rebounds and was going coast to coast for layups. I mean, it was just kind of one of those things like when you get rolling like that. It just becomes infectious to get stop after stop and just run, and run and run and try to try to bury them.”
Junior Connor Hanson hit the first shot for Creswell giving them a lead they never surrendered and jumping out to a quick double-digit lead in the first quarter 20-9. Chase Green started to heat up in the second quarter, hitting three three-pointers and being a pest on the defensive end, growing the Bulldogs lead to 37-18 at halftime.
The second half would continue to be dominated by Creswell as they only gave up 11 total points to North Bend in the second half. While Carson Williamson and Caleb Lee carried the offensive load for the Bulldogs as they outscored North Bend 30-11 in the second half earning their second win of the season 67-29.
With the great start for the boys Coach Thomas remains steadfast in his approach on the defensive end and reminds his team they have been in this spot before.
“You know, we had some defensive lapses, we gave up some lay ups and some and-ones,” said Thomas. “We started 2-0 last year also. And I think, and we were very quickly humbled by Junction City in our third game. So I think most of these guys remember Connor (Hanson), Max (Velarde), Carson (Williamson) and Chase (Green). You know, I think they’re maintaining their humbleness, and their focus on the defensive end. And their attitude of continuing to learn and understanding where we are and how much room we have to grow. That’s what I’m continuing to preach, is that the games and what you’ve done means nothing. Monday’s a new day, we have to get better Monday. And then we take the same approach to Tuesday and Wednesday and get ready for Thursday.”
Creswell will have great chances to continue their good start to the season as they face Elmira on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. Then the next day they traveled to Scio to face the Loggers at 7:30 p.m.
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