COOS BAY — It’s simply a different kind of game.
When the best basketball talent from the area comes together for a basketball game, everything gets turned up a skosh. The intensity rises with the talent increase. You put that game in a full gym, and you get five hours of entertaining basketball at the Bay Area Sportsman’s Association Big Mike South Coast All-Star Game at Southwestern Community College on Sunday.
“It’s really exciting with the whole crowd,” Coquille’s Morgan Baird, a sophomore, said. “But it’s really exciting playing with the best of the best from all the other teams. It’s really fun coming together.”
Players from all area high schools, including Brookings-Harbor and Gold Beach competed on the Lakers’ floor using college rules. The 3-point line was a little further back. The games were a little longer.
Both featured sustained comebacks that overcame hot starts, though only one was successful.
In the earlier girls game, Marshfield’s Tess Garrett scored 28 points a day after winning a state championship to lead Team Red to a 66-62 win, holding off a furious comeback in the final quarter by Team Blue.
After scoring just nine second-quarter points, Blue’s offense showed up for the third quarter. Red led 33-21 at halftime, using an 8-2 run to close the first quarter and an 11-3 run to close the second quarter for its lead.
“You want it to be a competitive game, but you want to have fun, too,” Garrett said.
But Blue started the third quarter with a run of its own. Paris Newdall of Gold Beach sparked a run with four straight points, then Marshfield’s Hailey Browning got in the act with four of her own. Then Jordan Rucker of Gold Beach decided she wanted in, so she scored four straight, then North Bend's Haley Snellgrove capped it with a layup. But because the Red team kept scoring, too, the deficit was only cut in half.
Blue never scored more than two consecutive baskets in the third quarter, with the Red team eventually building its lead back up to 13 after points from Garrett, Pacific’s Hannah Washabaugh and Reedsport’s Makenzie Seeley.
In the fourth, though, Blue made its final run. Coquille’s Josey Kaufman started the period with consecutive baskets and Newdall added a third for a short spurt to cut the Red lead to seven at 52-45.
But Garrett responded with seven straight points of her own and Blue was back where it started with 6:31 to play. Garrett kept scoring after a basket by Reedsport's Gabby Clark made it 59-48, pushing the count to 64-50 with 3:33 left.
Abby Farmer of Brookings-Harbor, the Far West League girls Player of the Year, hit her first shot in the fourth (a 3-pointer) to spark a 12-0 Blue run that featured baskets from Kaufman, Myrtle Point's Makenzie Larsen (her second 3-pointer), Rucker and Newdall.
But Kayleanna Ridens of Gold Beach and Washabaugh each made free throws in the last minute and Red held on.
The close battle wasn't a surprise to the players.
“That’s just because every girl out there knows what they’re doing,” Garrett said. “They can play.”
“Everybody knows exactly what’s going on and how to play, so it’s way more intense,” Clark added. “It’s way more fun. I feel like I play better on a better team.”
In the later boys game, the comeback was completed.
Led by 10 first-half points from Gold Beach’s Todd Halcumb, Team Blue led most of the opening 20 minutes.
Marshfield's Cory Stover had eight early points and Reedsport’s Tyreece Gardner scored to give Blue an early lead.
But the comfortable lead was short-lived. Pacific’s Justin Hall, who led Red with 11 points coming off a recent state championship for the Class 1A Pirates, scored six points with an added two from Bandon’s Braydon Freitag to get Red within three at 18-15.
It was rather close for the remainder of the first half, save for a nine-point lead taken by Blue after Halcumb got hot from 3-point range. He hit 3s on three of four Blue possessions.
“I was just trying to have fun with everybody,” Halcumb said after leading Blue with 19 points. “It’s a great atmosphere playing with all these great players and I just did what I could to help out.”
Grant Webster of Marshfield got in the scoring conversation with five straight points, then Austin Fronckowiak of Brookings-Harbor cut Blue's lead to 34-31 with 2:16 left. Blue managed to keep its lead at halftime, but only just. Seth Waddington of Coquille scored with a second left to make it a one-point game at the break.
After the break, Red took over. It used a 9-1 run, with most of its contributions coming from Far West League boys Player of the Year Jayden Frank of North Bend at the free throw line. That run gave Red a 46-39 lead that Blue cut to 46-44 with four minutes gone after Coquille's Henry Scolari converted a three-point play and Stover, who finished with 17 added a dunk.
It was in this stretch that the game began to be played at or above the rim. Stover routinely skied high for rebounds, competing with Pacific's John Morril-Keeler.
Jack Lehnherr guarded his Pacific teammate one on possession and impressively blocked Morrill-Keeler’s shot attempt, getting his hand over the ball cleanly for the block. With Morrill-Keeler smiling, Lehnherr bumped his teammate’s chest and said something, garnering further smiles from his tall colleague.
“It’s just great,” Morrill-Keeler said. “We’re friends so you just smack talk. We were smack talking before the game and stuff. It was good.”
Red took control after Stover’s slam. Red used a 20-4 run that Blue couldn’t recover from, though it tried. Blue used a 20-11 stretch, again helped by Halcumb’s shooting, to make it interesting down the stretch. Pacific’s Josh Engdahl swiped steals and Stover, Lehnherr and Halcumb scored.
But Red managed enough points and held on despite four offensive rebounds and five shots on the game’s last possession.
Sunday’s action was in no small part a celebration of local small-school basketball. Pacific’s four players all contributed. Gold Beach had the leading scorer. Players from Reedsport, Coquille, Bandon and Myrtle Point contributed as well.
Baird and Newdall played well in the girls game. There is local talent from up and down the South Coast.
“I think it’s just that we’re all great ballplayers,” Morrill-Keeler said. “I think we all deserved to be here.”
Red 66, Blue 62
BLUE (62): Paris Newdall 14, Hailey Browning 10, Josey Kaufman 8, Jordan Rucker 8, Gabby Clark 7, Haley Snelgrove 6, Makenzie Larsen 6, Abby Farmer 3, Kylie Lakey, Hannah Shorb.
RED (66): Tess Garrett 28, Morgan Baird 13, McKenna Wilson 8, Shay Bateman 7, Hannah Washabaugh 3, Makenzie Seeley 2, Miya Clauson 2, Nikki Lakey, Kayleanna Ridens 1.
RED 81, BLUE 77
BLUE (77): Todd Halcumb 19, Cory Stover 17, Henry Scolari 11, Josh Engdahl 9, Tyreece Gardner 5, Jack Lehnherr 5, Matt Yarbor 4, Jalen Robbins 3, Marc Chaney 2, Kody Clauson 2, Colton GeDeros.
RED (81): Justin Hall 11, Jayden Frank 10, Braydon Freitag 10, Grant Webster 10, John Morrill-Keeler 10, Austin Fronckowiak 6, Korde Parmenter 6, Jack Isenhart 5, Brandon Seuser-Smith 5, John Newton 4, Jamason Kellogg 2, Seth Waddington 2.
Halftime: Blue 38, Red 37.