COOS BAY — Gritty. Gutsy. Determined. All words that can sum up Thursday’s second game at the OSAA OnPoint Community Credit Union 3A Girls State Championships at Marshfield High School.
Oregon Episcopal 's Lauren Han drives the ball Thursday as Clatskanie's Shelby Blodgettin defend in a quarterfinal game during the Class 3A st…
No. 12 Oregon Episcopal threw everything it had at No. 4 Clatskanie, but the Tigers outlasted the Aardvarks 35-27 with 16 points and 21 rebounds from Shelby Blodgett and 13 points from Olivia Sprague. Rachel Lowell had 11 for OES. It’s the first semifinal appearance in school history for the Tigers.
“We definitely thought we’d come away with the win,” Blodgett said. “It was definitely a lot of work to get it, but we did what we had to do and we succeeded in it.”
Scoring was at a premium for all four quarters, with OES clamping on Blodgett and Sprague, Clatskanie’s top two offensive options, while the Aardvarks dealt with the Tigers’ physicality on the perimeter and inside.
Oregon Episcopal was just 8-of-48 from the floor and 3-of-19 from beyond the arc and got nearly a third of its points at the free throw line.
Clatskanie wasn’t much better from the field, going 14-of-45 and 1-of-13 from 3-point range, and was just 6-of-14 from the free throw line to boot.
Especially early, OES matched Clatskanie’s physicality and the fouls started to rack up.
The Aardvarks knew that the Tigers would be strong and physical and play to contact, and it was clear early that was understood.
“Part of it we knew was a mental game,” Lowell said. “The atmosphere here is crazy, so we knew we had to be mentally tough as well as physically tough and I thought we did a good job of doing that.”
It was a defensive performance from OES that was as tough and gritty as Clatskanie’s offense was.
Clatskanie plays Oregon Episcopal in a quarterfinal game Thursday during the Class 3A state basketball tournament at Marshfield High School.
“I told them it was a great way to start it off,” Aardvarks coach Brad Dawson said. “We maybe played our best defense of the year tonight, we’re a strong defensive team. They have two of the best, probably, players in the state, and I thought we did as good a job as anybody shutting them down.”
Clatskanie coach John Blodgett was extremely pleased with his team's win, especially considering Sprague fouled out halfway through the fourth quarter and Kaity Sizemore, who had nine rebounds, left not long after with an ankle injury.
“We haven’t had a lot like those,” he said. “Sometimes it’s ugly. But you gotta win. In that game, we had a lot foul trouble so we’re playing a lot of players that don’t play a lot but they stepped up and we were tough. We didn’t play our best game but we were able to get a win.”
After leading just 10-6 after the first period, Clatskanie built double-digit leads in each of the next two quarters, building a 20-9 lead in the second period and a 30-19 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
But then Sprague fouled out and Sizemore limped off, and OES started to come back.
Lauren Han hit a jumper, then Lowell scored a three-point play. Three minutes later, Grace Borbon hit a jumper to cut Clatskanie’s lead to just six at 32-26 with 2:07 left, the closest OES was since trailing 12-6 in the second quarter.
“They started to play our game a little bit,” Dawson said. “Kind of slowing down, have us forced to come out and guard them. We’ve been doing that to teams all year. They played a really good game. I thought we played very well, about as good as anybody has against them.”
Clatskanie's Olivia Sprague breaks up a solo drive by Oregon Episcopal's Wylly Willmott in a quarterfinal game during the Class 3A state baske…
Blodgett, though, was too much for OES to contain for long.
Of her 21 rebounds, seven came in the fourth quarter when they were needed most. Just a sophomore, as is Sprague, Blodgett knew she had to do a little more with the game in the balance and history to be made.
“(Sprague)’s definitely my partner out there,” Blodgett said, “so when she’s not out there on the floor I definitely feel like I’m the main person and I have to take it all on me.”
OES, though, isn’t terribly upset with the outcome.
Dawson said OES played probably the best defense they played all year against two of the best players — the two sophomore guards — they’d seen all year, and did a good job.
It just wasn’t the day to not shoot well.
The Aardvarks turn around and play Brookings-Harbor on Friday at 9 a.m. at North Bend High School.
“We’re obviously focused on the last game and what we can fix and clean up a couple things,” Lowell said, “But, yeah, 9 a.m. Super excited to play another team. Super excited, I think it’ll be an exciting game.”
Meanwhile, Clatskanie is excited to be in the semifinals for the first time and play the top-ranked Burns Hilanders on Friday at 4:15 p.m.
“We’re excited today. We made history for our school,” Shelby Blodgett said. “So that’s really important to us.”