Exhilarating double OT game, not pleasant ending for Bulldogs

Kendrick Murphy/CG Sentinel

For the third time in five conference games, the Creswell Boys basketball team found themselves in overtime. The Bulldogs were able to overcome a tough offensive start in the first half but ultimately fell to Pleasant Hill in double overtime 60-56 on Feb. 4. 

Just like in their last bout in the final three seconds left in the game Brayden Cantrell played the villain once again and made a pair of free throws to push the Billies over the top as they came away with the victory giving Creswell postseason hopes a major blow. 

“There’s a lot of good things that you can take out of that game and also some negative,” said Senior Forward Caleb Lee. “Whether it’s missing free throws or bickering with each other. But we’ll take a look at those negatives more in practice and get after it to eliminate those problems.”

Cantrell led all scorers with 23 points followed by other Billie teammates Matt Dutton and Gavin Inglish with 13 and 12 points respectively. Connor Hanson paced the Bulldogs scoring effort with 22 points and Caleb Lee added 12. 

“It’s hard to grasp what it is that’s happened in all of those close games,” said Head Coach Jesse Thomas. “It’s tough because I feel for the guys, they’re battling. They’re not giving up, it’s just the things that we’ve learned through these games are still not translating at the moment.”

Hanson got the Bulldogs on the board to start the game followed by Max Velarde getting a basket as Creswell was the clear aggressor in the first minutes of the game. Pleasant Hill responded right back, taking the lead with 4:13 in the first quarter. 

The Bulldogs were able to tie the game up in the second quarter at 13 but Cantrell and Inglish got the Billies lead back up to five as halftime drew close. Lee and Hanson combined for six Creswell points in the final three minutes of the half, but Pleasant Hill still held a five-point lead 28-23 at the break. 

Pleasant Hill seemed like they were going to separate from Creswell to start the third quarter after the Billies lead was up to eight with 5:08 remaining in the quarter. Hanson and Lee again combined to trim the Billies lead as the duo hit back-to-back threes on ensuing Creswell possessions getting the Bulldogs right back in the fold down only 36-35. 

After being down 41-37 at the end of the third quarter Creswell’s AJ Hodge found Jack Nguyen for an easy bucket later followed by a Velarde layup saw the Bulldogs back on top for the first time since the first half 43-41. 

With a minute remaining in the final quarter Lee banked in a contested shot and knocked down the free throw to hold Creswell’s lead 48-46. Inglish saved the day for Pleasant Hill twice as his pair of made free throws tied the game up with 35 seconds left and his two-point basket to beat the buzzer sent the game into overtime tied at 50. 

Cantrell scored all four overtime points for the Billes while Velarde and Hanson scored the only points for Creswell as neither team was able to gain an advantage in the first overtime forcing another OT period. 

Pleasant Hill’s Cade Luiz found Dutton for the easy two points in the first minutes of the second overtime. Hanson attacked the basket for two points that was followed by two Cantrell free throws as Pleasant Hill led 58-56 with 2:03 left. Creswell wasn’t able to muster another point on offense, but Cantrell’s late pair of free throws put the game on ice as Pleasant Hill came away with the victory 60-56. 

“The positive thing is that we know all three conference games are winnable,” said Thomas. “We know that we can win every game, we’ve shown that we know that it’s not a talent issue. It’s a mentality and an execution thing, we’ve defended well enough in those games, we’ve rebounded well enough in those games the constant is that we’ve shot it poorly. We’ve missed free throws, and we’ve had too many unforced errors. So, it’s all stuff that we know that is correctable. And now it’s just a matter of applying it because we still have something to play for.”

Creswell still holds some hope for a postseason run but will have to be flawless down the final stretch of their conference games. The Bulldogs will square off against Harrisburg on senior night at 7:30 p.m.

Stat Leaders

Connor Hanson 22 points, 5 rebounds

Caleb Lee 12 points, 2 rebounds

Max Velarde 8 points, 3 assists

AJ Hodge 8 points, 9 rebounds

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