COOS BAY — Dayton girls basketball coach Scott Spink hadn’t planned to use a 1-2-2 zone against Coquille in the Class 3A semifinals Friday.
But when the Red Devils continued to score against both his man-to-man and 2-3 zone efforts, he changed his mind.
“I was scrambling,” he said. “They were torching us.”
The defensive switch, and increased intensity by the Pirates, made the difference as Dayton beat the Red Devils 55-45 to earn a chance at a third straight state title. The Pirates face Blanchet Catholic at 7 p.m. Saturday in the championship game.
Coquille battled the Pirates for three quarters in a game that saw 10 lead changes and six ties.
The last lead change came at the end of the third quarter, when Coquille was called for a foul on a desperation half-court shot by Shawnie Spink and the Dayton junior made two of the three free throws for a 38-37 advantage.
Kalina Rojas then made shots on the first two possessions of the fourth for the Pirates and Coquille never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
Rojas and Spink combined to make 11 of 12 free throws in the final quarter (and 15 of 17 in the second half), keeping Coquille from any chance of a comeback.
The two Dayton team leaders said the Pirates did a good job of not getting caught up in Coquille’s style.
“Coquille does a good job of making other teams play their pace,” Spink said. “We did a good job of slowing it down and making them play our tempo.”
After Coquille’s strong first half, Dayton also stepped up its overall effort, Rojas said.
“Our intensity changed,” she said. “We knew we had to match their intensity.”
The Red Devils built a 16-11 lead through one quarter, aided by two 3-pointers from Halle Layton and another from McKenna Wilson, all drawing huge roars from a pro-Coquille crowd of nearly 2,500.
Coquille led by as many as seven in the second quarter before Dayton rallied to go in front for a short time.
Coquille was up two at halftime, nearly four when a basket at the buzzer was waived off, and went up by five in the third on a 3-pointer by freshman post Morgan Baird and a drive to the hoop by Tara Edwards.
Dayton came back and the teams traded leads five times in the quarter. Coquille got its last advantage on a runner by Halle Layton, but the Red Devils weren’t able to get much going in the fourth against the zone.
“We really started to play defense and shut them down,” Shawnie Spink said.
Rojas and Spink scored every point for Dayton in the second half except for two early baskets by Malina Ray and finished with 21 and 18 points, respectively.
Baird led the Red Devils with 13 points and Layton and Edwards scored eight each.
“I think we just played amazing as a team,” said Baird after the Red Devils lost to the Pirates in the semifinals for the second straight year. “Dayton was tough and they brought a lot.”
Coquille coach Tim GeDeros said he was happy with his team’s effort.
“I love the way we played,” he said. “There was no let-up.”
Coquille will try to bounce back in the third place game against Salem Academy, after losing to the Crusaders in that trophy game last year.
“I want to finish third, especially for the seniors,” Baird said.
Edwards, Darian Wilson and Tori Renard are hoping to give Coquille its best finish in school history in their final game and GeDeros expected the team to come back strong.
“We’ve got three seniors,” he said. “They still want to get that third-place trophy.”
The Pirates, meanwhile, want their third straight championship trophy, against a Blanchet Catholic team they beat 56-48 way back in early December.
“Blanchet is playing great basketball,” Spink said. “They are playing confident. We need to come out ready to play tomorrow.”