COOS BAY — When they were sophomores, Olivia Sprague and Shelby Blodgett led Clatskanie’s girls basketball team to a breakthrough state title.
Now the recently graduated duo can claim three crowns for the Tigers after Clatskanie beat Sutherlin 55-44 on Friday in the Class 3A championship game at Marshfield High School.
“It was always a dream,” Blodgett said of winning three straight titles.
“It’s overwhelming,” added Sprague. “It’s just as sweet as the first two.”
The two took time out from the team’s celebration, including cutting down the nets for the third straight year at Pirate Palace, to discuss the accomplishment.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Blodgett said, adding that the championship game was a battle.
“It wasn’t our best game. That happens when you play the other best team.”
The two teams met for the title for the second straight year, with the same result.
The game turned on the second quarter, when the Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 13-5 to build up a 26-16 halftime lead, holding Sutherlin scoreless most of the quarter.
Sprague credited the team’s defensive mentality for turning the game in Clatskanie’s favor.
“It’s what we’ve always stressed in practice every day,” she said. “Defense, defense, defense. (Coach) John (Blodgett) always says defense wins championships.”
Offense helps, too, and the seniors led the way, as usual. Blodgett scored 20 points and Sprague added 16. Cloee McLeod contributed eight more.
Sutherlin coach Josh Grotting agreed the second quarter was the difference.
“We just had a bad second quarter,” he said. “We had lots of turnovers.
“You can’t play from behind against them. We were so far behind, we couldn’t put pressure on them.”
Micah Wicks had 19 points for Sutherlin, Jadyn Vermillion added 13 and Amy Dickover scored 11.
“We played hard,” Grotting said. “Blodgett is a huge difference-maker for them.”
While it was a disappointing result for Sutherlin, especially seniors Vermillion and Dickover, Grotting was excited about the future.
“We’ve got a good foundation,” he said. “We will be fine. I hope we will come back.”
While Clatskanie graduated Blodgett, Sprague and Kaity Sizemore, Sutherlin returns three starters who are sophomores or freshmen and two others in that age group who played Friday.
In the third-place game, Nyssa edged Santiam Christian 62-60 as two other players had huge games.
Santiam Christian senior Audrey Miller scored 37 points, hitting eight 3-pointers, while teammate Sailor Allman had 15 points. Meanwhile, Nyssa sophomore Gracie Johnson went for 31 points and teammate Hailey Castro had 12 as the Bulldogs finished a week that started with a win at Broookings-Harbor just to get into the final four with a third-place trophy to bring back across the state to the city along the Oregon-Idaho border.
The all-tournament first team included Blogett, Sprague, Wicks, Vermillion and Miller.
Nyssa’s Johnson and Castro were on the second team, along with Dickover, Clatskanie’s Cloee McLeod and Santiam Christian’s Tayla Yost.
Hidden Valley outlasted Philomath 44-39 in overtime to claim the Class 4A girls title at Pirate Palace.
The Mustangs outscored the top-ranked Warriors 9-4 in the extra session after Philomath had battled back from a five-point halftime deficit.
Kaiah Fisher had 21 points for Hidden Valley, including four in the extra session, and Teryn Powers had 12 points, including a 3-pointer in overtime.
Mia Rush had 16 points to lead the Warriors, but Hidden Valley held high-scoring Sage Kramer to 10 points, just four in the second half.
“Defense always wins championships,” Hidden Valley’s Powers said. “Our whole goal was to shut down Sage and play great defense.”
In the third-place game, Josie Napoli had 33 points as Valley Catholic held of La Grande 60-52. Mariella Gunther added 10 points and Lauren Snook eight for the Valiants, the only team outside the top four to reach the Class 4A girls final four.
Ella Dunlap had 14 points and Makenna Shorts 11 for La Grande.
Fisher, Kramer, Rust, Napoli and La Grande’s Camryn Collman were named to the all-tournament first team while Snook, Dunlap, Philomath’s Raegan Larson and Hidden Valley’s Jaaden Steele and Jada Hurley were on the second team.