CORVALLIS — The Crater Comets pushed top-seeded Wilsonville to the limit but couldn’t pull off the upset as the Wildcats clawed through two Crater rallies to pull out a 64-57 victory and capture the third-place trophy in the Class 5A girls basketball state tournament Saturday at Oregon State’s Gill Coliseum.
The seventh-seeded Comets opened the game on a 10-2 run and, after Wilsonville rallied for a 32-25 halftime lead, used a another burst to briefly take a three-point lead in the third, 40-37.
But the Wildcats, who won the Northwest Oregon Conference and entered the state tournament as the favorite before losing to league rival La Salle in the semifinals, sprung some key defensive plays and hit just enough clutch baskets down the stretch to pull away.
Crater, which played the No. 1-, 2- and 3-seeded teams in the tourney, won’t come home empty-handed. The Comets were awarded the fifth-place trophy, thanks in part to their 64-57 quarterfinal win over Lebanon on Thursday.
“I really felt like even though we lost, we played very good basketball today,” Crater coach Scott Dippel said. “Honestly, they just made a couple plays right at the end and I thought we played very well on both ends. I think anytime you play a team that’s that good, when you make a mistake it becomes really big, so they turned a couple late turnovers into points.”
Averi Young had 15 points and eight rebounds and Sydney Gray 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists to lead the Comets (22-6), who kept themselves in contention by breaking Wilsonville’s full-court pressure and drilling 7 of 15 3-point attempts. The Comets also outrebounded the Wildcats 39-27, with Nehkyah Ellis pulling down eight boards.
Sydney Burns led Wilsonville (23-6) with 19 points, seven boards and five assists, Renee Lee added 16 points and Emilia Bishop 14 points and eight boards. The big three combined to hit 21 of 27 field goal attempts.
Wilsonville led by seven, 35-28, early in the third quarter before Crater went on a 12-2 run to go ahead by three on a 3-pointer by Kayana Woodard with 3:33 to go in the quarter. The Wildcats responded with a 10-0 run of their own before Young drilled a 3 to draw the Comets within 47-43 heading into the fourth.
Taryn Dance opened the fourth with a 3 to get Crater within a point, but Wilsonville outscored Crater 12-4 over the next four minutes to finally put the game on ice.
Dippel said his team showed its toughness by coming back in the second half and hanging around until the end, and praised his four seniors — Eliza Idiart, Maya Van Hook, Gray and Ellis.
“I told them afterwards, our four seniors, that they are such a great example of what it means to be a Crater basketball player on and off the floor,” Dippel said. “That really shined at the tournament and I think it set the bar for our younger kids.”