COOS BAY — Coquille’s tight-knit girls basketball team found itself in an unusual place at halftime during Friday’s consolation semifinals at the Class 3A state tournament. Some of the Red Devils were bickering among themselves as they trailed Mountain Valley Conference rival Creswell 17-14.
“We went into the locker room at halftime and a lot of people were negative,” Coquille’s Josey Kaufman said.
That’s when fellow senior McKenna Wilson, one of the quietest players on the team, spoke up.
“I said, ‘Stop pointing fingers,’” she said. “We’re a family. We usually don’t do that.”
Coquille coach Tim GeDeros pointed to that moment as the change that lifted the Red Devils over the Bulldogs and into Saturday’s fourth-place game with a 47-39 win.
“They do a good job of coaching themselves,” GeDeros said of the Red Devils. “We saw senior leadership step up.”
The Red Devils came out of the locker room like a new team, scoring the first seven points to take the lead. Abbey Dieu hit two free throws, Kaufman made a shot to put Coquille in front and Wilson nailed a 3-pointer from the wing.
That started a surge that included a pair of 3-pointers by Kyra Howard, a three-point play by Morgan Baird and a pair of free throws after a technical on the Creswell bench.
Coquille eventually built the lead to 14 points early in the fourth quarter before Creswell stormed back. The Bulldogs scored 12 straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers by Lexi McCrorey. Coquille had zero second-half turnovers when the run began and five when it finally ended on a pair of free throws by Wilson with 2:41 to go.
Creswell’s Karley Bellew, who spearheaded the charge, said the Bulldogs weren’t about to give up facing the big deficit.
“I think we gave it our all,” she said. “As a team, we fought hard.”
But Creswell couldn’t catch up.
Kaufman hit a jumper in the lane with 53 seconds to go to put Coquille back up six and another after Cali Allen hit two free throws for Creswell.
“I was not ready to be done,” Kaufman said. “I did not want to make this our last game.”
Wilson broke out of a weeks-long scoring slump to lead Coquille with 15 points and Kaufman had eight. Baird added 12 rebounds and seven points.
Wilson was relieved to break though against the rivals.
“I’ve hardly scored against Creswell for some reason,” she said.
She picked a good time to start. The Red Devils beat the Bulldogs for the fourth time this year and will go home with a trophy for the third straight year.
Their opponent Saturday, Nyssa, handed Coquille its last regular-season loss during the Salem Academy tournament in game that helped the Red Devils turn their season around.
“That (game) was ridiculous,” Wilson said of Coquille’s performance in the 50-42 loss. “It’s going to be really tough. I feel like we can do it.”
“We are not our December team,” Kaufman added.
Creswell, meanwhile, walked off the court with heads held high after battling the Red Devils to the end.
“I’m proud of how we played in the tournament, even though we lost,” said Bellew, who finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Howell added nine points and nine boards.