COQUILLE — The Coquille boys basketball team has spent the season collecting real close or relatively close losses to several of the top teams in Class 2A.
That was the case again Thursday night in the Sunset Conference opener, when the Red Devils battled unbeaten Toledo to the final buzzer, but couldn’t overcome a couple of big first-half runs by the Boomers in a 74-63 loss.
The Red Devils trailed 47-29 at halftime after Toledo had an 11-0 run late in the first quarter and a 12-0 run to close the first half. Coquille raced back within 10 less than three minutes into the third quarter, but never could cut the deficit closer than seven the rest of the way.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Coquille coach Willy Layton said. “They kept fighting.”
It was Coquille’s sixth loss this year to one of the top seven teams in the Class 2A coaches poll. Several have been closer than Thursday’s setback, but the game probably was the best the Red Devils have played all year.
“I’m happy,” Layton said. “From where we started out the year to where we are now, we’re 100 times better, but we have a long way to go.”
Toledo roared out of the gates Thursday, making its first five shots, including three 3-pointers. But Coquille weathered that storm and actually took a 17-15 lead late in the first quarter on a basket by Hayden Davis.
In moments, Toledo scored 11 straight, including a three-point play and 3-pointer by Conner Marchant and another trey by Mason McAlpine.
Again, Coquille battled back, and pulled within 35-29 on a three-point play by Davis in the latter stages of the first half, but the Boomers finished on a 12-0 run that included two more 3-pointers by Marchant.
“We should have come out stronger against them,” Davis said. “In the first half, we had our ups and downs.”
Toledo shot 7-for-17 from 3-point range in the first half, led by Marchant, who eventually finished with 27 points and six assists.
He said having several teammates with long range accuracy helps.
“It’s huge,” Marchant said. “It spreads the court and gives me a lane (to drive). I can kick it out to them and I trust them to make it.”
McAlpine had a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 13 points and Jadyn Spangler hit three bombs in the first half on the way to 11 points. Meanwhile, Jaxon Rozewski was battling Coquille’s Davis and Jeremy Kistner inside and eventually finished with 18 points, several off feeds from Marchant or Clifton Howard.
But Coquille made a game of it in the second half, opening on a quick 10-2 run.
The Red Devils never could put together another big run though, with Toledo always coming up with a key shot.
“That’s a good team,” Layton said.
The Boomers made few mistakes, committing just eight turnovers all night and shooting 10-for-11 from the line. The closest Coquille got was 63-56 with five minutes to go, but Howaard hit his only shot of the night, a 3-pointer, on Toledo’s next possession to kill Coquille’s momentum.
The Red Devils outscored the Boomers by nine in the second half, effectively getting the ball inside to Davis and Kistner.
Davis finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds and Kistner had 17 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Ean Smith and Jace Haagen added eight points each and Smith had seven assists.
Marchant said the win was big for the Boomers because they view Coquille as their top competition in the league. He added that Toledo isn’t concerned about keeping its record perfect.
“We’re not really focused on our record,” he said. “We’re just focused on what we need to do to get better.”
Davis, meanwhile, remained optimistic as Coquille embarks on the rest of the league schedule battling for one of the two automatic berths to the playoffs.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I can’t wait to see how we do.”
The Red Devils have a chance to avenge their one loss that didn’t come against the top teams when they visit Reedsport on Saturday before the league gets into its regular Tuesday-Friday schedule next week.