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Crater routs Hillsboro to lock up trophy

Crater’s girls basketball team didn’t entertain any notions of winning the Class 5A state championship this week, but the Comets did have high hopes for how things might play out at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.

Setting a goal of earning the program’s third state trophy in seven years, Crater came out full of determination in Thursday morning’s consolation semifinals and accomplished just that as the Comets never trailed in romping to a 63-30 win over Hillsboro.

“Today we were super active,” said Crater head coach David Heard. “For them to have that energy and come out and play with a purpose like that was just super impressive.”

Seventh-seeded Crater (22-5) built a 13-4 advantage through one quarter of play and didn’t allow the No. 6 Spartans (16-11) to reach double figures on the scoreboard until there was 2:49 to play in the third quarter.

The Comets will face fellow Midwestern League foe Marist (20-6) at 9 a.m. Friday. Marist beat Putnam 62-39 in Thursday’s other elimination game. Friday’s winner will finish with the fourth-place trophy and the loser places sixth.

“We’re getting a trophy either way,” said Crater head coach David Heard. “Like I told the girls, if you win (against Hillsboro) then there will be a trophy with all of their names on it in our trophy case that’s never going to go away. That’s a special thing for this group.”

The Comets showed how special it would be with an inspired effort against Hillsboro, with 5-foot-10 sophomore Sydney Gray setting the tone early by scoring six of her team’s first eight points and eight overall in the first quarter as Crater opened a 13-4 edge.

Gray finished with 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field and a 4-for-5 effort from the foul line. She also had six rebounds, three steals and two assists.

“That was as aggressive as I’ve seen Sydney Gray play,” added Heard. “That really set the tone for us. We put her at the high post and she was just being super aggressive to the basket. Then when they had to help on her with other people, we started kicking it out to the right person for open 3-pointers.”

About 12 hours removed from going 2-for-17 from beyond the arc in a quarterfinal loss, Crater went 8-for-20 from long range to put the game away with a 31-8 edge midway through the third quarter.

Alexus Woodard, a 5-10 junior post, stepped out to hit a confidence-building 3-pointer after Gray’s early barrage and added another later on to finish 7-for-10 from the field for a team-high 16 points with three assists and three steals.

Crater junior Mackenzie Ryerson finished 4-for-6 from beyond the arc for 12 points, senior point guard Mallory Heard added seven rebounds and six assists and senior post Evie Kent added six points, four rebounds and four assists in the runaway victory.

“I didn’t expect that,” Heard said of the rout. “I thought we definitely could win, but (Hillboro) beat Churchill by eight points to get here and they have a really good team.”

Beyond seeing the ball finally go in the basket on a regular basis at Gill Coliseum, the Comets got a big boost from a swarming defense that left the Spartans somewhat baffled in how to get off a quality shot.

“As they moved the ball around we were able to move with them in our matchup zone and we just didn’t give them anything,” said Heard. “The best thing we do is we move and contest shots, and the girls are good at adapting and changing our defense with little tweaks to our scheme.”

Hillsboro shot only 9-for-46 (19.6 percent), while Crater knocked down half of its shots (25-for-50) and forced 17 turnovers through three quarters. The Spartans scored 19 of their 30 points in the final quarter largely against the Comet reserves, who still kept pace to maintain a 30-point margin.

For its next act, Crater will look to snap a tiebreaker against their third set of Spartans in the tournament (Corvallis, Hillsboro, Marist). Marist got the better of Crater with a 32-23 home win on Jan. 20 before falling to the Comets in Central Point, 35-30, on Feb. 17.

“Marist is not the preferred team to play but it is what it is,” said Heard. “After the way we shot today, I feel a lot better about it but they played really well today, too. It’s two teams that know each other well and don’t have to watch much film. We’ll just have fun knowing it’s our last game and hopefully play loose and make some shots and who knows what can happen.”

“It will be fun but I still just can’t believe it,” added the coach. “We’re going to bring home a state trophy and it’s just amazing for us to be able to do that. They came out today and they weren’t having any of it, they were just determined to win it.”

CRATER (22-5)

Alexus Woodard 7-10 0-0 16, Sydney Gray 4-7 4-5 13, Mackenzie Ryerson 4-6 0-0 12, Evelyn Kent 3-6 0-0 6, Maya Van Hook 2-2 1-2 5, Nehkyah Ellis 2-3 0-0 4, Eliza Idiart 1-1 0-0 3, Aleesa Yother 1-5 0-0 2, Mallory Heard 1-7 0-0 2, Jamie Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Kelsey Lane 0-0 0-0 0, Parker Pons 0-0 0-0 0, Rane Jansen 0-2 0-1 0. Totals 25-50 5-8 63.

HILLSBORO (16-11)

Kylie Fernstrom 2-5 2-2 7, Makenna Gambee 2-11 0-1 5, Katherine Salas 2-7 0-0 4, Sorain Dy 1-6 2-2 4, Naomi Johnson 1-2 0-1 3, Julissa Theang 1-2 1-3 3, Paris Jenkins 0-4 2-2 2, Promise Saechao 0-1 1-2 1, Kendra Wilson 0-4 1-2 1, Ashlee Rodriguez 0-1 0-0 0, Rebekah Minoli 0-2 0-0 0, Isabel Mosley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 9-46 9-15 30.

Crater;13;9;21;20;—;63

Hillsboro;4;3;4;19;—;30

3-point goals—Crater 8-20 (Mackenzie Ryerson 4-6, Alexus Woodard 2-3, Eliza Idiart 1-1, Sydney Gray 1-1, Aleesa Yother 0-3, Mallory Heard 0-2, Jamie Harris 0-1, Rane Jansen 0-2, Nehkyah Ellis 0-1), Hillsboro 3-14 (Makenna Gambee 1-1, Naomi Johnson 1-1, Kylie Fernstrom 1-2, Paris Jenkins 0-2, Kendra Wilson 0-1, Rebekah Minoli 0-1, Sorain Dy 0-2, Katherine Salas 0-4). Rebounds—Crater 33 (Mallory Heard 7), Hillsboro 33 (Makenna Gambee 10). Assists—Crater 20 (Mallory Heard 6), Hillsboro 8 (Makenna Gambee 3). Total fouls—Crater 12, Hillsboro 13.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry