The Creswell girls basketball team mounted a late rally in their quarterfinal matchup against Oregon Episcopal on Friday, March 3, but the Bulldogs were never able to get the game-changing bucket to shift the momentum there way and the Aardvarks were able to hold on for the 39-33 win over Creswell.
“We were just trying to find a way to get another bucket (against OES),” said Head Coach Tyler Hollingsworth. “We had opportunities, we just unfortunately couldn’t score. We were playing pretty good defense, but we just didn’t do enough unfortunately on the offensive end.”
Now facing a win or go home situation the following day against a familiar league opponent in Santiam Christian in the consolation bracket. Creswell had no time to dwell on the previous matchup as their next game was coming at 9 a.m. on March 4.
Unfortunately for Creswell, the early game did not do them any favors as the Bulldogs found themselves in a big hole early. The offense wasn’t able to find a spark all morning and only shot 17.6 percent on FGs and 16.7 percent on threes. The Bulldogs dropped the season-finale to Santiam Christian 57-33. Emme Whitson led the team with 11 points, Dakota Carson finished with 8, followed by Karinna Leonard with 5.
“Overall, they played hard,” said Hollingsworth. “It was just a matter of we weren’t ready to execute as well as we needed to. I felt like they were okay in the morning. I mean, they were obviously a little bit tired, but I felt like they’re ready to rock I think if a couple more shots fall in early it probably feels different.”
Santiam Christian started strong from the jump, starting the game on a 13-0 run in the first five minutes. Creswell’s first points came on a pair of made free throws from Whitson with less than three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Carson made the first points of the second quarter to make the score 17-4. She also knocked down another jump shot with near a minute remaining until halftime to finally eclipse double-digit points for Creswell but the Bulldogs were still down 33-12 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs matched the Eagles point for point with each scoring 15 in the quarter. But Creswell still had an uphill battle, being down 48-27.
Karinna Leonard put the first Creswell points on the board in the final frame, but the Bulldogs only scored four more points the rest of the game and weren’t able to get any rhythm going on offense the whole game. Santiam Christian closed out a 57-33 win over Creswell.
Despite not getting the results the Bulldogs were hoping for in the tournament, Creswell still enjoyed a successful season returning to the postseason for the first time since the 2017-18 season. Also marking the first time since anyone on the current roster has advanced that far.
“I’m very proud of us and that we were able to make it to state,” said Senior guard Emme Whitson. “We were the same team as last year and even though we didn’t do well in Coos Bay, we had a good season overall. I’m so glad I got to do it with this team.”
The Bulldogs started their season 4-6 before going into league and were able to turn around to finish 6-2 in league play also finishing with sole possession of second place.
“I’m super proud of them,” said Hollingsworth. “I thought the girls did a phenomenal job this season. I knew we had that ability to be where we were. The journey itself is actually far more rewarding since we had to go through some struggles and the girls were still able to come out on the other side and have a chance. So I was pretty pleased with the way the girls battled game in and game out. They did a good job.”