The Creswell boys basketball team mojo is at an all-time high right now after taking first place in their home tournament ‘the Bulldog Invitational’ with wins against Monroe (77-42) and Siuslaw (64-58) on back-to-back nights.
Also surpassing the best program start in nearly a decade in winning their first seven games in a row beating the previous mark of six and earning a top-four ranking in the state.
“I’m certainly happy with the start and I think the kids are too,” said Head Coach Jesse Thomas. “Now we’re trying to keep finding things in the areas that we need them to improve on that have shown up consistently in the games.”
In the championship game against Siuslaw Max Velarde led Creswell in scoring with 14 points while teammates Chase Green and Caleb Lee each added 12, also shooting over 40 percent from the three-point line.
“I think the 7-0 start is an awesome accomplishment especially considering the fact we are a pretty young squad,” said Sophomore point guard Chase Green. “Beating that mark I know means a lot to our guys. And now we have set the tone for another Creswell team within the next years to beat.”
Green added, “Beating Siuslaw really shows our guys can push through adversity and come together. Winning first place shows what this team is capable of, and I know we can accomplish bigger things if we continue to play together. Winning it (the first-place plaque) in front of the home crowd is just another statement piece and the amount of support the crowd gives us is amazing.”
In the first quarter of the championship game against Siuslaw, Creswell’s Carson Williamson hit two threes in the first minutes of the game to give the Bulldogs an early 8-2 lead. Siuslaw’s Brody Terry responded with three three-pointers of his own also in the first quarter propelling the Vikings in front with an 18-17 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
Terry and teammate Avery Hart continued the Viking’s run into the second quarter with Hart getting a put-back dunk off a missed shot growing the Viking lead 28-20.
With three minutes left in the second quarter, Siuslaw held a 30-20 lead on Creswell, but the Bulldogs started to find their rhythm with buckets from Green and Lee sparking an 8-0 run cutting the Siuslaw lead to only two at halftime 30-28.
“The play and intensity on the floor felt like a playoff game it was really cool,” said Thomas. “So it was really fun. It was exciting. You know, obviously, they’re a really solid team, good players, good athletes, and are well-coached and they (Siuslaw) get after you. I knew that there was a good chance that we were going to face some adversity in our game. And you know, we started off really hot, we got rolling, and then Siuslaw went on a run, and then we went on a run at the end of the second quarter there to close the gap. But then we battled back right for half to get up to two and reset at halftime.”
The Bulldogs came out on fire in the second half, opening the third quarter on a 13-0 run and causing havoc defensively. Creswell jumped back in front and led 41-30 over Siuslaw, the Viking’s first points of the third quarter came with just over four minutes left. Lee hit a three-pointer to hold Creswell’s lead at the end of the third quarter to six 50-44.
Siuslaw cut the Creswell lead down to three points with just over five minutes left in the game at 53-50. But Velarde and Williamson scored back-to-back buckets pushing the Bulldogs lead back up to seven with under four minutes left in the game.
With time running out for Siuslaw Braydon Thornton hit a three in the final minute to try to spark a late Vikings comeback. But Creswell would not allow a comeback bid as Lee and Velarde each made a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal a Bulldog victory 64-58.
“Whether we won or lost I wanted to see how we were going to deal with adversity,” said Thomas. “In the second half they played good team ball, we made plenty of mistakes, but we played good team basketball. We moved the ball, we worked hard to get good looks, our guys made extra passes. And so that’s what I was happy to see regardless of the win or loss. I was just happy that they played the way that we need to, to give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Bulldogs will have played one more game against Toledo before the Sentinel’s press time before taking a break.
Max Velarde 14 points, 15 rebounds
Chase Green 12 points, 2 assists
Caleb Lee 12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Carson Williamson 8 points, 4 rebounds
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