COOS BAY — As Sutherlin rallied to try and overcome a 17-point second-half deficit, it was beginning to look more and more like the No. 2-seeded Bulldogs and No. 1 Clatskanie were headed for their second epic finish of the season.
But the Tigers found one last surge of defensive pressure and successfully defended their Class 3A girls state basketball title, holding on for a 51-40 victory in Saturday night’s championship game at the Pirate Palace at Marshfield High School.
Sutherlin (25-3), which had won 10 straight entering the title game, rallied from a 40-23 hole midway through the third quarter to get within 46-40 with 1:45 left in the game, but a big defensive play from Clatskanie junior Shelby Blodgett proved to be the dagger.
After Kiersten Haines — fouled on a 3-pointer — hit two of her three free throws, Amy Dickover grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end of the floor. But Blodgett stripped the ball away for an easy layup to seal the deal for the Tigers (23-2).
“We knew at some point we were going to have to weather a storm,” Clatskanie coach John Blodgett said, the ceremonial cut-down championship net draped around his neck. “They got back within six and we missed some easy shots. The girls tightened up a little bit, but we were finally able to get back to what we needed to be doing.”
After Shelby Blodgett’s steal and layup halfway through the third quarter pushed Clatskanie to a 40-23 lead, Sutherlin slowly began chipping away.
Haines hit a 3-pointer to spark the rally, then had a steal and layup in the final minute of the third quarter to get the Bulldogs within 40-28. Jadyn Vermillion’s bank-shot 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer had Sutherlin within 10 points, 40-31, for the first time since the Tigers’ Olivia Sprague hit a 3-pointer with 4:12 left in the second quarter.
“We made a run. We made a run,” said Sutherlin coach Josh Grotting, who was trying to guide the Bulldogs to their sixth state championship under his tutelage. “They came up with some really big plays when they needed to.”
Clatskanie dominated the boards, outrebounding Sutherlin 44-28 as Shelby Blodgett (a 5-foot-9 junior) and junior Kaity Sizemore locked up Bulldog junior post Amy Dickover in the paint. Sizemore, despite picking up her fourth foul just 90 seconds in the fourth quarter, had 10 rebounds while Blodgett finished with a game-high 15.
Dickover had 14 rebounds and six blocked shots down low for the Bulldogs, but struggled to get anything going offensively, scoring all six of her points at the free-throw line.
“Our girls did a really good job on Dickover,” coach Blodgett said. “She’s a really good player and we had to clamp down on her. But to do that, we had to give up some 3-point looks. They’re a good enough team that we kind of had to do one or the other.”
Haines shot 5-for-14 from 3-point range on her way to a game-high 19 points for the Bulldogs. She was a second-team all-tournament selection.
“Things weren’t going our way, but I’m really proud of how my girls played,” said Haines, one of just three seniors on the Sutherlin roster along with Carmen Ganger and Abigail Masterfield. “We showed a lot of heart. Our shots really weren’t falling, but we were playing tough defense. They are strong, tall girls. It’s hard to box them out, but we gave it our all.”
Freshman point guard Micah Wicks added eight points for the Bulldogs, while Vermillion finished with seven. Vermillion made the all-tournament first team and Paige Bailey was a second-team selection.
Junior guard Olivia Sprague shot 4-for-7 from 3-point range and had 16 points while Sizemore finished with 12 points. Sprague’s 3-point flurry in the second quarter helped Clatskanie race to a double-digit lead after the teams were all-square at 11-11 after the first quarter.
Clatskanie held a 28-4 edge in points in the paint.
The Tigers graduate just two seniors, both who serve reserve roles.
With the talent returning for both teams for the 2020-21 season, it would be a safe bet to believe Sutherlin and Clatskanie have not seen the last of each other.
SUTHERLIN (40) — Kiersten Haines 6-15 2-3 19, Bailey 0-5 0-0 0, Dickover 0-4 6-9 6, Wicks 2-7 4-4 8, Vermillion 1-5 4-4 7, Ganger 0-0 0-0 0, Masterfield 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-36 16-20 40.
CLATSKANIE (51) — Shelby Blodgett 7-25 4-4 18, Martin 0-1 0-0 0 Sizemore 5-12 2-3 12, Sprague 6-17 0-0 16, Smith 2-5 0-0 5, McLeod 0-1 0-0 0, Hagen 0-0 0-0 0, Leloff 0-0 0-0 0, Boothe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-61 6-7 51.
Sutherlin 11 7 13 9 — 40
Clatskanie 11 20 9 11 — 51
3-Point Goals — Suth. 6-22 (Haines 5-14, Vermillion 1-3, Wicks 0-1, Bailey 0-4), Clat. 5-13 (Sprague 4-7, Smith 1-3, Martin 0-1, Blodgett 0-2). Total Fouls — Suth. 13, Clat. 19. Fouled Out — McLeod. Rebounds — Suth. 28 (Dickover 14), Clat. 44 (Blodgett 15). Assists — Suth. 7 (Wicks 3), Clat. 11 (Sprague 5). Turnovers — Suth. 14, Clat. 11.