By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It was all you could hope for when Clatskanie and Sutherlin met at the fifth-annual Yoda MLK Showcase event at Corban University.
It could easily be the match-up for the 3A State Championship in Coos Bay in March, and if both teams produced the 69-65 Overtime win they did Monday, it will be a treat.
The Tigers won Round 1 of a possible two round war with the Bulldogs, and both were without some big names entering overtime tied at 61. Clatskanie, who came back from down 30-19 late in the second quarter, were without the calming force of Olivia Sprague as that calming force on the court due to fouls. They had to step up their game without the junior and make sure they execute at this juncture of the game.
“Having her out there, it’s not only having one of our best players out there but a calming factor for me knowing my other best player’s out there,” said the Tigers Shelby Blodgett. “Our team plays well and I know we believe in each other…not having her out there, now we have to get down-and-dirty and do what we do.”
Sutherlin had hit five of their 11 three-pointers in the second quarter to help to build that then 11-point spread, but as they enter the overtime frame, they were going without Amy Dickover. Dickover went out late in regulation with fouls.
Yes not having Dickover’s height hurt, but their bench stepped up when they needed them throughout the game and as they tipped it off. With Blodgett and Kaity Sizemore down in the key and strong shooters on the perimeter on the outside like a Sprague, it showed them how to approach them if the two teams met up again in the first round of the playoffs or Coos Bay.
“It definitely showed us who their strong players are and what we need to do better, what we need to fix so we can come out on top,” said the Bulldogs Paige Bailey. “Blodgett, she’s a very good player. She has very strong, has a good shot so maybe D-ing up on her a little more.”
Blodgett scored the first basket of overtime as Clatskanie quickly jumped out to a 65-61 lead, Jadyn Vermillion scored twice to tie it once more. It’ll be the last time Sutherlin would score in the game as the Bulldogs regained the lead and then ice it at the line with Blodgett to cap the tough battle between the two squads.
Games like this speaks volumes to the evolution of the Yoda MLK Showcase in it’s fifth-year of existence.
“It’s good for us to get these good competitions,” said Sizemore. “We don’t get the same level of competition in our league, so we come here to play games like this to up our skills and we pull it out, we play as a team.”
Sizemore finished with 21 points in the win. Blodgett and Sprague each scored 16 in the game.
For Sutherlin, who’s 15 wins is the most the program had since their 23-win 4A State Title squad in 2017, it’s time to put it in the past and get back to work and prepare for South Umpqua Friday.
“We’re just going to get back to practice, we’re going to put (this) in the past. It doesn’t mean anything right now, we didn’t lose a State Championship today. It’s just another game,” said Bailey, who finished with 19 points and six three’s.
The Bulldogs Vermillion too finished with 19 points in the defeat.