BANDON — It was one roughly five-minute stretch that was the difference.
Hosting the defending Class 2A state champion Santiam Wolverines in the Bandon Dunes Holiday Invitational, the Tigers dug a big hole but steadily climbed out, just not far enough. Santiam, led by 28 points from defending state player of the year Jonah Downey, scored 14 straight points to turn a tie game into a 48-36 Wolverine win.
“We tried to talk to the guys about what a great opportunity it was to get out there and get to compete with (Santiam) to see where we’re at,” Tigers coach Matt Angove said.
Take away that one run, though, and Bandon played close with Santiam. The deciding run started with a game tied at 7 and ended with it at 21-7. After that point, Bandon outscored Santiam 29-27.
Early in the game, Jason Wilhite hit a 3 and Braydon Freitag and Coby Smith each had buckets for Bandon.
But Santiam’s balanced offense, steered by Downey, took over. Downey scored seven points during the run and Josh Fawcett hit his only 3-pointer of the day. In all, four different Wolverines claimed points, and the run stretched through two Bandon timeouts and the quarter break. It started when Fawcett hit a free throw with 3:13 in the first quarter to break the tie and ended when Smith hit a short jumper with 6:17 on the clock in the second quarter to cut the Wolverine lead to 21-9.
“It looked to me like some of our guys were a little timid and scared to shoot it in the early going, and that kind of set us back a little,” Angove said. “Our defense was not ready the way we went over it.”
Santiam took advantage of a Bandon defense that struggled to cover everyone. Downey hit two more 3s in the second quarter en route to 10 points as the Wolverines held a 31-14 advantage at halftime.
But Bandon settled down. The Tigers opened the third quarter on a 7-2 run and closed the game on a 6-0 run with a chance to cut the final margin to single-digits. It was buoyed by a more confident Tigers offense, which shot 15 percent better in the second half, and a more disciplined Bandon defense.
“We told the guys, we’re super proud of these guys,” Angove said. “In the second half we started accomplishing what we were doing, really. Showing on screens, helping on 3s, making them kick it.”
Downey and Jordan Lanham and Fawcett weren’t getting as good of looks in the second half and made five fewer shots, which led to 11 fewer points and a shrinking lead.
Freitag finished with a team-high 17 points, 12 of which came in the second half, by scoring hard-earned points in the key and picking off steals in the passing lanes for layups.
“Our leaders, captains, whatever that is, have to lead by example,” Angove said. “If our top players are not working hard, then that’s not good for the program. And you see that. Braydon, he doesn’t let a bad half get to him.”
Bandon is off until after the holiday, when it plays Glide at the Oakland Booster Club Holiday Tournament Dec. 28.
Glide beat Scio 42-15 in the third-place game.
Clay Farrar had 20 points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals in the win over the Loggers. Dillon Towne added nine rebounds and four points.
Lance Grossman had six points for Scio.
Downey, Freitag, Towne and Scio's Garrett Harrison were on the all-tournament team.