Crater comes up shy in 5A opener
A slow start was too much to overcome despite a furious finish by the Crater girls basketball team Saturday as the sixth-seeded Comets came up short in a comeback bid against Rex Putnam, 45-39, in the opening round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
Crater found itself down 16 points entering the final quarter before closing within five points with two minutes to play.
The Comets (19-7) had three chances to close the gap even further but were unable to convert, and then time simply ran out on their season.
“This was really the third game in (our last four) where we just started really slow,” said Crater coach Scott Dippel, whose team lost 45-36 at Willamette and 34-30 against Churchill in consecutive games before closing the regular season with a 62-23 win over Eagle Point.
“We gave ourselves two good opportunities with a five-point game, we even got an offensive rebound on the one,” added the coach, “and we just missed some opportunities going toward the basket.”
With the win, the 11th-seeded Kingsmen (19-6) advanced to the 5A state tournament and will face No. 3 seed Crook County in Thursday’s quarterfinals at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
“They’re fantastic,” Dippel said of Putnam. “They’ve got to be the best No. 11 in a long time.”
Freshman guard Sage Winslow led Crater with 11 points and four steals, while senior McKenzie Hirsch had nine points and eight rebounds. Senior Kayliegh Gugliotta and sophomore Abigail Winslow each chipped in with six points, while sophomore Chase Weaver pulled in eight boards and freshman Addison Dippel had three assists.
For Putnam, senior guard Maddie Olma had 15 points and junior post Riley Greenleaf added nine. The Kingsmen got eight points apiece from Emma McDonald and Rylee Lemen.
“Olma, their point guard, is so strong,” Dippel said, “and McDonald is a great 3-point shooter. I thought we did a great job in the first half but lost her on a couple big possessions in the third quarter.”
For as off-kilter as the Comets may have been early, they only trailed 23-18 at the break despite constant defensive harassment by the Kingsmen.
The third quarter, though, was all Putnam as it used a 17-6 surge to make things really difficult for Crater.
“All season we’ve usually been much better coming out of the locker room defensively and we gave up the two 3-pointers by McDonald and one to Olma and those nine points really changed the complexion of the game.”
Sage Winslow’s quick five points in the fourth helped Crater close to within 40-31, and Lydia Traore’s putback made it 40-33.
Hirsch scored consecutive baskets to spark hopes of a comeback with two minutes to go at 44-39, but her ensuing driving effort missed the mark. After Greenleaf also missed on the other end, Crater had another driving shot by Weaver and a good look at a 3-pointer come up empty.
“I’m proud of the way that they played and how hard they came back,” said Dippel. “ I just thought we got a little away from our game plan, especially defensively in the third quarter, and it was just hard to rebound from that.”
“Like I told the girls, not everybody gets to end their season on a win,” he added, “but 19 wins and a playoff game to be this competitive is nothing to feel bad about.”
PUTNAM (45): R. Greenleaf 9, Olma 15, McDonald 8, Kasubuchi 3, Lambert 0, Lemen 8, Weaver 2. Totals: 10 (3) 16-28 45.
CRATER (39): K. Gugliotta 6, Sizemore 0, Dippel 3, Weaver 0, Hirsch 9, S. Winslow 11, McCauley 0, A. Winslow 6, Vranes 0, A. Gugliotta 0, Traore 4. Totals: 12 (2) 9-19 39.
3-point goals — Putnam 3 (Olma 1, McDonald 2), Crater 2 (Dippel 1, S. Winslow 1). Fouled out — S. Winslow.
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