EAGLE POINT — The decision was an easy one for Eagle Point boys basketball head coach Bryan Wood: Get the ball in Cesar Chavez's hands, and let him do the rest.
The senior point guard scored the game-winning basket with 1.5 seconds to go as the Eagles edged Crescent Valley, 55-53, in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs at Eagle Point High on Saturday.
"You have a four-year starter that you've grown to love and trust," Wood said. "What better situation do you want?"
Chavez finished with 23 points and senior shooting guard Jorge Quintero added 19 points for the fourth-seeded Eagles (21-3), who will next face West Albany (20-5) in the state quarterfinals at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene on Thursday. The fifth-seeded Bulldogs beat Hermiston, 73-55, in their first-round contest.
On Eagle Point's final possession, Chavez dribbled the ball up court with 24 seconds remaining. After burning down the game clock a bit, he took a mid-range jumper that fell short. The missed shot bounced his way, and Chavez corralled it, penetrated past the free-throw line and floated up the go-ahead bucket.
"I knew I was going to pull up from the start," he said.
The packed gymnasium burst into cheers and several students rushed the court.
"It's the best feeling in the world," Quintero said.
Not so fast.
After some discussion between referees, 1.5 seconds was put on the clock. Crescent Valley's inbounder threw a full-court pass that was bobbled near the opposite basket and the Raiders couldn't get off a clean look.
The crowd again went wild.
"It was crazy," Quintero said. "We had to keep our composure until the last buzzer."
Much of the game was crazy, too.
The deep-shooting Eagles knocked down nine 3-pointers while only attempting five free throws in the back-and-forth affair. Eagle Point's predilection for the deep ball was a reaction to Crescent Valley's sagging zone defense, Wood said. Chavez was 5-for-12 from beyond the arc and Quintero 3-for-10.
Thirteenth-seeded Crescent Valley (15-9) led 13-11 after the first quarter, but Eagle Point owned a one-point advantage at halftime and entered the fourth up two.
Quintero found his touch in the second half after a cold start, scoring nine in the final eight minutes. His bucket early in the final period put the Eagles ahead, 46-37.
"They encouraged me to keep shooting and so I'd like to thank my teammates and coaches," Quintero said.
The Raiders wouldn't go away, though.
Hunter Hurley's free throw make with 3:21 remaining tied the game at 48.
Chavez answered with a 3 with 2:40 left and Quintero added a free throw with 1:58 remaining. Lake Roberson's triple with 1:29 to go cut Eagle Point's advantage to a point before Quintero again went 1-for-2 at the charity stripe with 41.6 seconds left.
Joe Casey buried a three to tie the game at 53 with 24 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Chavez's big bucket.
"I am so happy for this team," Chavez said. "I have never been a part of a team like this."
CRESCENT VALLEY (53) — Casey 13, Roberson 10, Sanders 8, Kinkade 5, Hurley 10, Langager 7, Whitney 0. Totals: 18 13-24 53.
EAGLE POINT (55) — Quintero 19, Morris 0, Barber 3, Holte 0, Chavez 23, Edwards 4, Baker 0, Dole 2, Holmes 4. Totals: 22 2-5 55.
Crescent Valley 13 8 14 18 — 53
Eagle Point 11 11 15 18 — 55
3-point goals — Crescent Valley 4 (Roberson 2, Hurley 1, Langager 1), Eagle Point 9 (Chavez 5, Quintero 3, Barber 1). Technical foul — Barber.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt