Willamina girls batter Coquille, advance to state
WILLAMINA — The Willamina girls' basketball team broke their sideline huddle to start the fourth quarter with a one word shoutout ... "FINISH."
By then, the Bulldogs had pretty much finished visiting Coquille off en route to a 53-32 Oregon School Activities Association Class 3A high school playoff victory Friday night.
West Valley League champion Willamina, which lost its first two games of the season to Western Mennonite of Salem and Santiam of Mill City by a combined seven points, has now won 24 straight games, and the last four contests by an average of 32 points.
Head coach Tom Anderson's Bulldogs will take a ton of momentum to the Class 3A State Tournament beginning Thursday at two sites, Marshfield High School in Coos Bay and North Bend High School.
Willamina will play St. Mary's of Medford in a quarterfinal round game at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at North Bend High.
Southern Cascade League member St. Mary's, 19-3, defeated visiting Salem Academy of the PacWest League, 53-48, in overtime Friday night.
"St. Mary's is a good team," Anderson said. "We played them in the second game of the state tournament last year (semifinal round), and they beat us by 10 points. It was a good game. They're a seasoned group.
"We're going to enjoy this win tonight," Anderson said. "I'm excited four our kids to get there. I feel like they've now put some of the stress behind them, and they can go out and have fun now."
Having won two dozen straight games, the Bulldogs should be confident group heading to the tournament.
"Our kids have played a lot of basketball," Anderson said. "They know how to compete, and we're pretty balanced."
The Bulldogs have advanced to the round of 16 in each of Anderson's eight seasons guiding the Willamina program. They have now played their way into the State Tournament three times, and finished fifth last year. They previously finished fourth.
Seniors Whitney Anderson, Zoey Holsclaw, Devon Stackhouse and Kyra Toney are ready to help the Bulldogs bring home the grand prize this year.
"Every team that we face is going to be a good team," said Whitney Anderson, who led Willamina in scoring with 18 points, including 10 in the first half, to go with 11 steals.
Toney added 11 points, Kacey Anderson 10 and Sydney France nine.
France had eight rebounds, Holsclaw six, Whitney Anderson five, Kacey Anderson four and Toney three. Kacey Anderson dished out four assists.
The teams were tied at 12 at the end of the first quarter. The Bulldogs outscored the Red Devils, 12-5, in the second quarter, thanks in part to 7-of-8 free throw shooting.
Willamina's smothering defense took over in the second period. Coquille did not score its first two points until there was 5:15 to play, and they came at the free throw line. The Bulldogs did not allow a field goal until there was 3:23 to play.
"We focus on defense as a team," Tom Anderson said. "Defense makes the difference in games. "This might be my best offensive team, but we play good defense, too. The girls are smart, and we're long."
Willamina ran away and hid from the Red Devils in the third quarter, outscoring Coquille, 13-3, on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. The scoring was distributed between Whitney Anderson, Kacey Anderson, France and Toney.
The Bulldogs forced 10 turnovers in the second and third quarters when they broke away from the Red Devils.
"We play defense as hard as we can," Whitney Anderson said. "We can rest on offense. We played like we wanted to."
Coquille finished its season with a 15-11 record, losing five of their last six games. However, part of the late season collapse could be attributed to post players Kaitlyn Hyatt and Nicole Romine going down with season-ending injuries. Hyatt is 6-foot and Romine 5-9.
"They came out and played us tough," Tom Anderson said. "It was tied at the end of the first quarter. I know one of their post players didn't play, and that was unfortunate for them, but I told our girls to just come out and play."
Maddy Grant led the Red Devils in scoring with 10 points, the only double-figure scorer for her team. She had a trio of three-point field goals.
"We played a very good first quarter, even a good first half,” Coquille head coach Tim GeDeros said. “We didn’t have enough depth to hang with them."