Playing against a familiar foe to which it had already lost twice this season, the seventh-seeded Crater girls basketball team knew it needed to be at its very best to have a shot against Midwestern League champion and third-seeded Springfield in today’s Class 5A state semifinals.
And while the Comets took care of business on the boards and clawed their way back into the game late, an awful shooting night eventually did them in as Springfield rolled to a 54-34 victory at Oregon State’s Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
Crater’s first loss since a Feb. 15 setback to the Millers dropped the Comets into the third-place game against top-seeded Wilsonville, which lost to La Salle in the other semifinal. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Saturday. Springfield (23-4) and La Salle will face off for the state championship starting at 8:30 p.m.
“We have an opportunity to do something really special (Saturday) and third place is a real honor this year, and to be able to play the no. 1-ranked team in the state for it - we’re not going to need a whole lot of motivation,” Crater coach Scott Dippel said. “I told them, it’s disappointing but we get to play tomorrow.”
With a pair of double-digit wins against Crater already under its belt heading into the game, Springfield wasted no time taking control in the third meeting. The Millers used a 9-2 run to take a 14-6 lead into the second quarter, and that’s when things got really bad for the Comets. In the second, Crater managed to score only two points, as Springfield took a 25-8 lead into the break.
The halftime statistics said it all: Crater hit just 4 of 24 shots in the opening two quarters and missed all 11 3-pointers it attempted.
“We got some good looks in the offense, they just couldn’t go,” Dippel said. “At one point I think we had three straight possessions with nice and clear looks by people that usually make those shots and each time the ball went in and out. That was just a little backbreaking.”
The Millers extended their lead to as many as 20 points, 33-13, on a free throw by Masey Williams late in the third and looked like they would cruise into the final before, out of nowhere, the Comets used a hack-a-Miller strategy to fight their way back into contention.
A layup by Maya Van Hook and a pair of jump shots by Eliza Idiart, including a 3, cut Springfield’s lead to 12 points, 33-21, with still 5 minutes, 48 seconds to go.
“We started fouling really early, about a minute into the fourth quarter,” Dippel said. “They missed free throws and we were able to come down and (score). We played about four to five minutes in a row fouling.”
The Millers reinserted their best free throw shooters, however, and righted the ship in time to keep the Comets at arm’s length. Springfield finished 20-for-23 at the free throw line and shot 15-for-34 from the field to overcome Crater’s 33-28 rebounding advantage.
Van Hook led the Comets with nine points, three rebounds and three steals, Sydney Gray had eight points and five boards and Idiart five points and two steals.
Reice Newell scored 16 points, Kayley Elliott eight points and 11 boards and Masey 12 points, including two 3-pointers, to lead Springfield.
Maya Van Hook 4-8 1-4 9; Sydney Gray 2-9 4-4 8; Nehkyah Ellis 2-9 0-0 5; Eliza Idiart 2-10 0-0 5; Kayana Woodard 1-3 0-0 2; Madisan Bowers 0-0 2-2 2; McKenzie Hirsch 0-1 2-4 2; Presley Robison 0-2 1-2 1; Averi Young 0-7 0-0 0; Madison Dutkiewicz 0-1 0-0 0; Taryn Dance 0-1 0-0 0; Kayleigh Gugliotta 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-51 10-16 34.
Reice Newell 8-12 0-0 16; Masey Williams 3-4 4-4 12; Kayley Elliott 1-4 6-6 8; Emma McKenney 2-8 3-3 8; Rebecca Durbin 0-3 7-10 7; Kodi Chapman 1-1 0-0 3; Paige Oswalt 0-0 0-0 0; Jocelyn Barraza 0-2 0-0 0; Laila Barraza 0-0 0-0 0; Kadijah McKinney 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-34 20-23 54.
Crater........................ 6 2 5 21 - 34
Springfield................... 14 11 8 21 - 54
3-point goals--Crater 2-21 (Eliza Idiart 1-6; Nehkyah Ellis 1-5; Kayana Woodard 0-1; Presley Robison 0-1; Averi Young 0-4; Madison Dutkiewicz 0-1; Sydney Gray 0-3), Springfield 4-12 (Masey Williams 2-3; Kodi Chapman 1-1; Emma McKenney 1-6; Rebecca Durbin 0-1; Reice Newell 0-1). Fouled out--Crater-Averi Young, Springfield-None. Rebounds--Crater 33 (Nehkyah Ellis 7), Springfield 28 (Kayley Elliott 11). Assists--Crater 7 (Sydney Gray 2; Averi Young 2), Springfield 12 (Emma McKenney 5; Rebecca Durbin 5). Total fouls--Crater 21, Springfield 12. Technical fouls--Crater-None, Springfield-None.