By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– The Oregon West Conference has been a crazy one this year and it’s getting wild coming down the stretch.
Philomath and Woodburn were tied on top of the league standings at 8-2 with Cascade a game behind them at 7-3. The Warriors eked out a 38-34 win to remained at top, but the Cougars had other plans.
Carson Molan had 13 of his 22 points in the opening quarter with Cascade leading 23-11 after the first quarter in their 67-49 win to pull into a two-way tie for second. The win forces Woodburn to win their season finale with Philomath Tuesday for a share of the title.
“At first we came out, we we’re like ‘we got to keep up the energy and keep it going’ because we started off slow these past few games. So we wanted to come out with energy,” said Molan. “But as soon as we saw them coming back, we knew we had to turn it up.”
The Bulldogs, who had a bad stroke of luck finding their shots and the little things overall in the game, had stayed with it however. Cutting a 15-point lead to 41-33 with 3:10 left in the third quarter following Cole Beyers three-pointer.
It has been since 2008 since the Bulldogs last league title, and still have a crack at sharing the title if they defeat the Warriors Tuesday at Philomath to force the logjam on top of the standings.
Woodburn Head Coach Raul Veliz had reminded his team following the game that this one is over and it is on to the next one.
“We’ve done it all year. We’ve told our players, we tell them hey, ‘at midnight, drop it. It’s done and you got to move on’,” said Veliz. “We won’t really change that perspective for our guys. A loss sucks. They beat us, tip our caps to them and move on and hopefully we’ll do enough to get some energy back.”
The run to pull to within eight with the adversity around them Friday was just indicative to who they are as a team no matter the difference. One-point or twenty, the Bulldogs are going to fight.
“We just keep playing, just keep playing no matter what,” said Veliz. “I give credit to Cascade, they came out and just gave it to us. They were the more aggressive team, they really wanted the game I think more than some of our guys did in terms of really giving that effort that you really need to give in a game like this. They deserve all the credit.
“We hit some shots, but not consistently enough to keep us close. Defensively, we just got to tighten it up.”
Just the littlest of errors can turn a close game into a totally different game. A couple of shots here or there during the second and third quarter could’ve made the game tighter, and Cascade took advantage of the missed opportunities.
In a span of the 3:10 mark of the third quarter and the 3:10 mark of the fourth, an eight minute span, the Cougars turned the 41-33 lead into a 61-38 advantage as the difference maker in the game Friday.
“We had our shot at league, but we just got to keep working out inside of league. In-and-out of practice every day,” said Molan. “We didn’t get the league title we wanted, we just got to keep working and hopefully we get this one at Stayton on Tuesday.”
Woodburn’s Carter Nelson had a team-high eight points and Jeovanny Marroquin contributed seven in the defeat.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald