By Jeremy McDonald
PENDLETON, Ore.– 32 more.
The plan walking in to get 32 more minutes following their tough opening round loss to Western Christian Thursday night.
Santiam had just ralled from a 15-9 deficit to hold a seemingly safe 38-31 lead with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
Their Seniors were leaving it all out there. As banged up as Colin Thurston and Hunter Reeser were with injuries entering the postseason, Reeser used his physicality after loose balls to set the pace while Thurston exploded for 20 points in the Consolation Semi-Final round.
With the Red Devils charging, taking a 45-42 lead with 2:16 left in the game, the Senior leadership helped keep the Wolverines in a calm state in the crazy fourth quarter.
“We were going to pull it out the whole time. Our Seniors have great leadership and they helped us out the whole, we weren’t nervous at all,” said Chaz Storm.
Coquille and Santiam traveled well, and their crowds let them know about it coming down the stretch.
Thurston hit a three to tie it at 45 moments later and Storm handed the Wolverines back the lead they wouldn’t relinquish at the 1:23 mark. Storm and Reeser each hit on two free throws to help clinch that last 32 minutes of the season with Santiam looking for fourth-place in State.
It goes back to what this Senior Class is leaving behind for the underclassmen going beyond this year.
“I think it has to do with the grit, this Senior class espically. We’ve grown up together , we’ve played basketball for I don’t know how long…we don’t want to lose,” said Thurston. “I know that game against Western Christian last night, that one was a tough one, but I think that goes to show the capabilities and the mental side of this Senior Class.
“Being able to bounce back from a game like that and yeah we don’t have a chance to win State anymore, we still have a good chance to win the Consolation Championship. We said it in the locker room before the game, we wanted to guarantee another 32 and that’s what we came out to do.”
The passion, the fire in the Wolverines sparked them to one last 32 minute frame as the take on the Central Valley Conference-Champions in Oakland Saturday morning at 10:45am.
Thurston finished with 20 points with three three-pointers and Storm added another 11. Ean Smith led all scorers with 27 points for Coquille.