By Logan Brandon • Sports Editor • 

Dayton defeats Pleasant Hill, 53-44, earns third place at state

Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Dayton s Lukas Findley and Braeden Nowlin accept the 3rd place OSAA 3A basketball State tournament trophy at the conclusion of Saturday s morning game.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Dayton's Lukas Findley and Braeden Nowlin accept the 3rd place OSAA 3A basketball State tournament trophy at the conclusion of Saturday's morning game.

 

COOS BAY – “It is what it is.”

 

Dayton head coach Ron Hop succinctly summed up today's 53-44 win over Pleasant Hill and third-place state tournament finish. Entering the playoffs, the Pirates sought the program's sixth state championship, but an upset loss to rival Amity last night in the state semifinals derailed their hopes.

 

Though disappointed in the lost opportunity, Hop felt pride in his team's performance against the Billies, saying, “I'm really happy with our boys that they came out and showed up today; this is a game that they could've felt bad about themselves or they could play with the same effort they have the whole tournament.

 

“After last night, we needed to realize it's over – I've played basketball long enough to realize those things happen for you and against you. I'm happy our kids played with a great effort and showed a better rhythm against a really good Pleasant Hill team,” he added.

 

Other than a second-quarter slump in which they scored only four points, the Pirate offense bounced back from last night's 37-point showing against the Warriors.

 

Reserve sophomore forward Justin Morales formed lethal inside-out combination with senior point guard Braeden Nowlin. Morales scored six points in the first quarter, while Nowlin chipped in five points, two assists and two steals.

 

Powered by the two's offensive surge, Dayton raced to a 14-4 lead after the initial eight minutes.

 

Nowlin pushed the Pirates' advantage to 18-4 with 6:12 left in the second period. However, Dayton's shooting dropped off, resulting in six scoreless minutes in which Pleasant Hill embarked on a 12-0 run. The Pirates' cold quarter brought the Billies to within two at halftime, 18-16.

 

Lukas Findley and Nowlin both canned three-pointers in the third period. Nowlin ended the frame with a sweet dump-off pass to Morales for a lay-up and a 32-28 advantage.

 

In the fourth, the Billies frantically searched for a late rally. Yet, Dayton's experienced core executed patiently in the final eight minutes. Nowlin and Findley combined to hit eight foul shots in the fourth, sealing the Pirates' third place finish.

 

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