In the previous two meetings between the Creswell women’s basketball team and the Harrisburg Eagles, the first team to 50 points ended up winning the game. The first round went to Harrisburg 51-49, the second round went to Creswell 50-44, and in the third meeting with much more on the line before the state playoffs, the defensive intensity of both teams would increase d another level.
In a low-scoring back-and-forth battle all night, Creswell’s Samairah Quinones pair of free throws with less than a second left in the game carried the Bulldogs to a 30-28 win over Harrisburg. , cementing their position in the playoffs and standing alone in second place in the Mountain Valley Conference.
“I think we did a really good job defensively,” head coach Tyler Hollingsworth said. “They (Harrisburg) only made one basket in the fourth quarter. I think it gives them more belief that they belong, and it helps keep that momentum going.
Senior Emme Whitson was the only Creswell player to hit double digit points with 11, followed by Kendyl Whitson and Lauren Bailey with 6 points each. But the main difference in the game was Creswell’s excellent free throw, as they only missed one all night, finishing with an excellent 92% as a team.
Kendyl and Emme Whitson scored all of Creswell’s points in the first period as the Bulldogs held on to a 7-4 lead late in the first quarter.
Creswell’s only points early in the second quarter came from free throws, Emma Manness, Quinones and Whitson all knocked down their foul shots to hold the Bulldog lead at 14-9 with three minutes left until halftime . Harrisburg’s Emmalee Smathers got an offensive rebound then handed it over for a bucket before scoring the final points of the half, with Creswell still holding a slim 16-13 lead.
Harrisburg found new life in the second half as they started the third quarter on a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the game. Emme Whitson committed her fourth foul in the third quarter, forcing her to sit the rest of the way.
Harrisburg knocked down a three-pointer and made a pair of free throws to extend their lead to five as the quarter ended 24-19.
After being outclassed 11-3 in the previous quarter, the Bulldogs were able to react in the last quarter to get back in the game. Bailey’s three-point shot in the fourth quarter was the first she had made all season, which came at the most opportune time to bring Creswell back under three.
“I love that she shot it without even thinking about it,” Hollingsworth said. “She’s been working very hard and doing a good job and in the last week and a half she’s started shooting at three.”
After some time on the bench due to foul issues, Emme Whitson came back to level the game at 28 with a hard left-handed shot and 1:37 remaining in the game. Both defenses held the opposing offenses in check in the final minute until Creswell’s final possession when Quinones was fouled on a shot attempt.
With less than a second left on the game clock (0.7), Quinones stood at the phaseless line of the big moment and made his pair of free throws giving Creswell the 30- 28. Harrisburg’s near-complete uprising failed and the Bulldogs walked away with the win.
“I told the girls, ‘Don’t be satisfied,'” Hollingsworth said. “We were 4-7 coming into the league and basically went 7-2 in the league, so that’s a nice turnaround. But we didn’t come here just to get in or just to lose, we came here to keep winning. Our next objective is therefore to arrive at Coos Bay.
Needing just one more win to qualify for the final site of Coos Bay, the Bulldogs will return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2017-18 season. And will start their tournament with a rematch against Douglas who Creswell played to start this season. The game will be played next Saturday, February 26 at Douglas High School with the scheduled start time at 6 p.m.
Heads of statistics
11 points, 3 rebounds
6 points, 7 rebounds
6 points, 2 rebounds