Strong start

Hunter Layton drives down the court during Coquille's victory over Glide.

COQUILLE — Less than a week after winning the school’s first state football title in more than a half century, several of the football players were on the basketball court helping Coquille win its basketball opener.

The Red Devils edged Glide 53-50 on the opening night of Coquille’s annual tournament, the Winter Lake Classic.

“I think we did good, especially coming off football,” said Hunter Layton. “It’s a pretty good first step. A W is a W. We knew it was going to be ugly going into it.”

It almost went the wrong way.

Glide erased an 11-point Coquille lead entering the fourth quarter and went in front in the final two minutes.

But Layton slashed into the lane and threw up the go-ahead basket. Then Bo Messerle, another of the football players, hit a rebound basket after Layton missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity.

After Glide cut the lead to one again, Layton hit two free throws, then came up with a steal in the final seconds to help secure the victory.

Gardner Scolari, one of the few regulars who aren’t on the football team, scored a team-best 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Layton had 13 points. Hayden Gederos, another of the football players, added 10, eight in the third quarter when he hit a pair of 3-pointers.

Much of the night, Coquille struggled shooting the ball, though, including hitting just four of 12 free throws.

“Our shots will fall soon — we just have to get practice and get in better shape,” Layton said. “Football shape and basketball shape are different.”

That Coquille was able to win after falling behind late was a sign of one of the team’s strengths, Layton said.

“We have a good mindset,” Layton said. “We play together. We just believe in each other.”

Willy Layton, Hunter’s dad and the team’s head coach, agreed.

“The heart with these kids is amazing,” he said. “They play for each other. It’s fun to watch.”

Willy Layton noticed that the team was able to overcome a few injuries, including one that sidelined Scolari for much of the second half, and foul trouble that included two post players fouling out.

“It was next kid stepping up,” he said. “I was proud of the younger kids for stepping in.”
The coach thought the opening win was a good start.

“We’ve got a long ways to go and the kids know it,” he said. “They know we’ve got to get in shape and we are going to go through ups and downs.

“As long as we’re in shape when league starts (in January), we’ll be fine. When you get tired, you make mistakes.”

Coquille wasn’t able to make it two wins in a row Saturday night, when speedy Illinois Valley beat the Red Devils 58-44 in the championship game.

Starz Saavedra had 24 points and Brendyn Bruner added four 3-pointers and 15 points for the Cougars, who had beaten Monroe in their opening game Friday.

Brock Willis and Dean Tucker, who both were saddled with foul trouble the first night, scored 17 and 12 points, respectively, to lead the Red Devils, who were cold from the field all night, but at least heated up from the foul line, making 11 of 15 free throws after shooting just 33 percent in the opener.

Coquille has a busy schedule this week with home games against North Douglas on Wednesday and Central Linn on Saturday sandwiched around a trip to Lowell on Friday.

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