Crater finds late spark, pulls away for win over Thurston
Crater head coach Brian Broaddus has been in the game long enough to know that a team’s record doesn’t always tell the entire story.
That was certainly the case against two-win Thurston on Wednesday night.
Crater, however, was able to get the separation it had been searching for all game long late in the third quarter, using a 12-0 run to close the period en route to a 56-38 win over the visiting Colts in Midwestern League boys basketball action in Central Point.
“We just didn’t have any energy in the first half,” Broaddus said. “We were (lackadaisical) on defense, we weren’t getting defensive rebounds, we were stagnant on offense with a lot of standing. We just talked about some of that stuff at halftime and the kids just played with a lot of energy and passion in the second half and that translated to going on a little run there.”
With Wednesday night’s win, the Comets (12-1, 4-0 MWL), ranked fourth in the latest Class 5A coaches poll, are off to their best start since the 2017-18 season when they started the campaign with an identical 12-1 overall record and ended up advancing to the state semifinals before losing to Thurston, the eventual state champion.
Against the Colts on this night, the Comets trailed 29-28 before they started to get the ball rolling to close the third quarter. Getting 3-pointers from Marcus Idiart and Ashton Acrey on back-to-back possessions to cap the 12-0 run, the one-point deficit to Thurston (2-8, 1-3) was suddenly a 41-30 Comets lead.
“They’re a very athletic team,” Broaddus said of Thurston. “They’re very strong, they play tough defense. They have the bodies, the athletes and coaches, so they’re tough defensively. We just weren’t moving enough with all five guys and we were making it easy for them — it was all 1-on-1 or two guys and then they have 10 eyeballs on the ball.
“We got much more ball movement and body movement and then started finding open guys (in the second half),” he added. “They stepped up and hit some shots. It kind of gave us a little breath because it was tight, it was tense, and when it’s like that they just don’t play as free as they should or could. So it was nice to hit a couple of big shots there and get a little cushion.”
It was anything but a runaway contest up until that point.
Thurston, which started the season with seven straight losses, was putting up quite the fight against a Crater team that entered the night with an eight-game winning streak.
Crater held a 13-6 lead late in the first quarter after a putback by Logan Price, but saw Thurston respond to go in front 21-19 with just over three minutes to go in the first half.
Thanks to a Caden Lasater 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Thurston’s 6-foot-5 post Jacob Newell just before halftime, the Comets were able to take a 24-21 lead into halftime.
Crater senior Tate Broesder finished with a game-high 15 points, while Lasater was also in double figures with 14 points and hit four of the Comets’ nine 3-pointers.
Javon Smith added eight points for the Comets.
“He was huge,” Broaddus said of Lasater, one of Crater’s seven seniors. “He does all the things that don’t show up in the stat book. He gets his hands on things, gets on the floor after loose balls; a couple times their big boy (Newell) got a rebound and he comes from nowhere and takes it away. He’s our toughest guy by far and he’s gritty and does the dirty work. In football, he’s always in the right place and in basketball it’s the same kind of Mr. Versatile thing. I can have him guard a guard, I can have him guard a big. I’m glad he’s on our side and not the other.”
Newell, who recently signed a letter of intent to play football at Arizona State, led the Colts with 10 points.
Crater continues MWL play when it hosts North Bend on Friday night, the second of three straight home games for the Comets after playing just one of their first 12 games in front of their hometown crowd.
“We’re a mismatch and a problem for teams to guard,” Broaddus said. “Just like Ashland is huge and creates a mismatch for teams, we can put five guards, five shooters out there and it’s hard to guard that as well. If we work hard and defend like we should and box out and rebound, we should do some good things. We’ve yet to put a complete 32 minutes together, and if we do, that will be awesome. But we’re kind of streaky — we either start slow or start fast and then coast. That’s been the focus lately is to get 32 minutes of max effort.”
THURSTON (38): Mmari 1, Perez 6, Stutesman 3, Bonar 3, Gallup 2, Stiffler 0, Efseaff 5, James 7, Newell 10, Levesque 1. Totals: 15 4-11 38.
CRATER (56): Acrey 3, Lasater 14, Vranes 5, Smith 8, L. Price 4, Idiart 3, Dahlin 0, Broesder 15, K. Price 4. Totals: 17 13-14 56.
3-point goals — Thurston 4 (Stutesman 1, Bonar 1, Efseaff 1, James 1), Crater 9 (Lasater 4, Smith 2, Acrey 1, Idiart 1, Broesder 1).
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.