By Jeremy McDonald
NORTH BEND, Ore.–With 5:17 left in the game, Blanchet Catholic found themselves in a bad position down 41-34.
Clatskaine were riding a 22-6 run, Ana Coronado was working her way back after being carried off the court late in the third quarter after falling down awkwardly going after the ball.
“We definitely started to get a little nervous,” said Kalea Salang on the situation at hand. “It just takes us a while to get leveled headed and play our game and just get our confidence back because Ana’s a huge part of our team. So whenever something like that happens, we all feel the need to work extra hard.
“So it was a little nerve-racking, but we made it so hard on ourselves but it was a hard-fought win and it makes it just that much better of a win.”
Slowly, eerie to last year against Portland Adventist Academy, the Cavaliers began on a trek back to the lead.
Salang cut it to 41-36 before Bailey Hittner got it two 41-39 with a three with 4:02 left in the game.
The Tigers pushed their lead back to four after freshman stud Olivia Warren laid it in with 3:03 left in the game up 45-41.
But, Trinity Phipps connected on two crucial free throws to cut the lead in half to 45-43 with 2:25 left that was followed by a missed Clatskaine shot, a Hailey Otsby block and a defensive rebound by Salang led to a Coronado lay-up to tie the game up at 45 as the junior finished with eight points and seven rebounds, eight assist and four steals.
Shelby Blodgett missed a jumper that would have gave the Lady Tigers a lead as Phipps rebounded the missed shot with 1:40 left in the game as they milked the clock and Head Coach Ron Hittner using his last two timeouts trying to ensure his girls had the last shot.
Through all the Clatskaine fouls, pressure and timeouts Bailey Hittner found herself with the ball with under five seconds left with a clear lane to drive or shoot a three-pointer like she did.
As she let the ball fly, she called it a ‘stupid shot’ looking back at it.
“Well we still had enough time to drive to get a lay-up in so I think that was a higher percentage,” laughed and smiled Hittner on the shot selection.
Call her modest, or call her clutch or call Kobe for her but the shot went in with six seconds remaining with the assist going to Phipps, one of her three in the game as timeout as called with four seconds remaining with the Blanchet crowd and the Lady Cavs bench going nuts as the once loud Tiger student section fell silent.
“I mean it was just crazy just going through the motions and running coaches play which I didn’t execute whatsoever, but I was open and thankfully it went in,” said Hittner on the play.
Similar to Emily Collier and Sophia Poole helping to ice the win over the Cougars in the opening round, Phipps, Coronado and Hittner shots late helped seal yet another first-round win as Coronado tips the inbound pass and stole the ball to seal the 48-45 win.
Just as eerie, it’s the same set-up as last year’s semi-finals: Cavs-Salem Academy. Noon on Friday at Marshfield High School.
“This year is kind of eerie,” said Salang. “Like a lot of the things are the same like they are mirrored. The Gervais game to end the year, then playing (Salem Academy) at Sprague (and) having a tough game. Then we win our first round here by a little and then Salem Academy again and like them, we know them like the backs of our hands because they’re so close that we know them.”
Knowing that this game was an option when the brackets were released, Blanchet Catholic hopes to deny the Lady Crusaders once more as they did last year as they hope to have a crack at repeating as champions.
“Oh yeah, we’re excited. We got a good game-plan ready, but no matter the outcome we’re just going to try to play as a team and try our best,” said Hittner.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald