After their last league win over Siuslaw, the Cottage Grove boys’ basketball team returned to the playoffs for the first time in five years and faced off against the Molalla Indians in the play-off round. Although the Lions control the game most of the time. Molalla’s three-point flurry in the final quarter brought them back into the competition and eventually helped them pull away in the dying minutes to claim a 55-48 win over Cottage Grove.
“Credit to Molalla, they hit big shots in big moments,” said head coach Seth Hutchison. “I felt really good in this whole match, until the last moment. But we just didn’t make enough plays to win the game and we didn’t finish around the edge consistently.
Carter Bascue led the Lions with 20 points, followed by teammates Jayden Cameron with 11 and Brennen Murphy with 9. In the first three quarters, Cottage Grove held Molalla to 29 total points, but the Indians’ offense exploded considerably in the fourth. trimester. Molalla outscored the Lions 26-12 in the final frame and knocked down six three-pointers in the final eight minutes.
“I’m very proud of this group and what we’ve been able to do over the past season,” said senior guard Jayden Cameron. “Having a winning season in one of the toughest leagues in 4A. A cut short season the year before, but despite everything we did together, we worked hard and trusted each other. This team meant so much to me, so many friendships that go way beyond basketball.
The first half featured Cottage Grove, Cameron and Ty Kishen combined for three three-point shots while Bascue and Murphy held the boards down and scored near the hoop.
As the game approached half-time, the Lions maintained their lead and after a three-point Isaac Stere beat the buzzer to end the second quarter, Cottage Grove held a 26-19 lead heading into the break.
Coming out in the second half, the flow was very similar to the first two quarters, with Cottage Grove able to respond to every point Molalla put on the board. At the end of the third quarter, the Lions were still very much in control 36-29.
In the first two and a half minutes of the last quarter, three different players from Molalla brought down three players to level the game at 38, electrifying the home crowd and breathing new life into the Indians. In the two minutes that followed, Cottage Grove was unshaken and responded with a 10-2 run to catapult themselves ahead with just under three minutes to go.
“After that race I felt really good,” said Hutchison. “We were going to go into our stall attack and have them foul us. But an unfortunate call on the sideline made Jayden (Cameron) scoop his fifth foul. And I think we lost our temper after that.
Shortly after another Molalla made three, Cameron was called for his fifth personal foul and was forced to miss the remaining two and a half minutes of game action. The Indians managed to equalize again at 48 apiece on their next possessions as the Lions struggled to find an offense. With a minute left, Jacob Larson of Molalla hit a three into the right corner, earning another spirited response from the home crowd as the Indians held their first lead of the night 51-48. Attacking problems continued for the Lions in the final minute after they were unable to score another point. Molalla’s Jacob Watson got a steal and turned it into a dunk to close the game, and the Indians won 55-48 against Cottage Grove.
“I’m extremely proud of these kids,” Hutchison said. “Like I said before, this is my first class of four-year-olds. So I thought they’ve made giant leaps in their high school basketball careers. And hopefully we’ll move on. to the next stage next year.
The Lions basketball team will lose some really key contributors to this team next year. But returnees have the opportunity to build on the successes of this season and use it as a springboard for next summer and winter.