Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
CENTRAL POINT — Crater senior Becca Heard is as optimistic as anyone, but even she couldn't help but admit to being taken aback by the start of Tuesday's Class 6A girls basketball state playoff opener against Forest Grove.
The visiting Vikings seemingly could do no wrong in taking a 10-2 lead on a Comet team already without leading scorer and rebounder Courtney Setzer.
Instead of coming unglued in the first-round affair, the Comets came together and, in doing so, found a way to secure a 54-39 victory at Crater High.
"I think everyone stepped up a lot tonight," said Heard, who managed 10 points and four rebounds despite being sidelined by foul trouble. "Everyone played probably the best game I've ever seen from anyone, it was awesome."
The contributions were vast and enjoyed mostly on the defensive end as Crater (17-8) limited Forest Grove to 11-for-32 shooting (34 percent), including 3-for-14 in the second half to pull away.
Those figures are especially impressive considering the Vikings (15-11) opened the game by going 4-for-5 from the field to build a 10-2 advantage. A change in zone tactics, as well as an outstanding low-post effort to form a blockade against 6-foot-2 center Kaitlin Jamieson, forced Forest Grove out of its rhythm and comfort level.
"We were trying to feed our strengths and get inside," said Forest Grove head coach Dan Lumpkin, "but to open up the middle you've got to be able to hit shots from the outside and we weren't able to hit our perimeter shots to help open it up."
Working hard to deny passing lanes in the low post were Kes Noles, Destiny Fahndrich, Becca Heard and Olivia Ryerson. Their efforts, combined with frantic play up top by the likes of Mallory Heard, Cheyenne Scott and Monica Heard, created a helter skelter approach that played into the Comets' hands.
With the win, Crater advances to a second-round matchup with second-ranked Oregon City, which beat Grant 93-38 in other action Tuesday. The winner of that game advances to the eight-team state tournament at Portland's Moda Center.
"I really am just wanting them to enjoy this now," said Crater head coach David Heard. "They played so good and I'm just so proud of the team effort of not giving up. We're not even thinking about Oregon City, we're just going to enjoy the ride."
After closing their deficit to 12-11 through one quarter against the Vikings, the Comets used a 10-2 run in the second quarter to help forge a 29-25 halftime lead. From there, Crater kept Forest Grove at bay by connecting on 9 of 23 shots in the second half, including three key 3-pointers by Becca Heard, Monica Heard and Scott.
Overall, Crater was a crisp 6-for-15 from 3-point range (40 percent), with four different players doing the honors.
"To their credit I think they could've punted the ball toward the hoop and it would've gone in," said Lumpkin. "It seemed like they hit everything they threw up."
Fahndrich led the way for Crater with 13 points, six rebounds and two steals, while Monica Heard came off the bench for 10 points, four rebounds and three steals and Scott had eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
Bailey also was steady off the bench with seven points, while Mallory Heard had four points and four rebounds and Ryerson managed three rebounds and two blocks.
"That was as good of a team win as we've had all year," said coach Heard. "I'm just really super proud of how they played their last home game and playoff game, it's kind of a reward for them for all they've done all season."
Jamieson dominated the early going for Forest Grove, with four of her five blocks in the first quarter, and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Fellow senior Madi Andresen added 12 points and six rebounds, going 8-for-10 from the foul line in a game that had little ebb and flow due to 20 fouls in the first half alone.
While the contributions for Crater were definitely spread out, Fahndrich was especially key in helping offset the loss of Setzer, who has been the team's most potent force in the paint but suffered a sprained MCL on Feb. 18 against South Medford and remains out.
Whether it was a mid-range jumper or attacking drive to the basket, Fahndrich helped make sure her team didn't go through many scoring droughts in the opener and she was a tireless worker on the defensive end.
"Destiny's one of our toughest kids and she's not going to back down," coach Heard said of the 5-8 sophomore. "We talked this week about getting away from the basket and hitting the mid-range jumper and then attacking the basket at the right time because she's so strong. Defensively, she just plays so hard and her spirit is contagious out there."
FOREST GROVE (39) — Jamieson 13, Andresen 12, Anderson 5, Turner 3, Swanson 2, Long 2, Hutchins 2, Villalobos 0, Duncan 0, Collins 0, Flemmer 0. Totals: 11-32 15-22 39.
CRATER (54) — Fahndrich 13, B. Heard 10, Mo. Heard 10, C. Scott 8, Bascom 7, Ma. Heard 4, Noles 2, Ryerson 0, Gray 0, Gavin 0, E. Scott 0. Totals: 16-49 16-24 54.
Forest Grove 12 13 9 5 — 39
Crater 11 18 12 13 — 54
3-point goals — Forest Grove 2-10 (Anderson 1, Turner 1), Crater 6-15 (Bascom 1, C. Scott 2, Mo. Heard 2, B. Heard 1). Fouled out — Long, Hutchins.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry