It's been a rocky road for Seaside's boys basketball team this season.
The Seagulls have flashed vast potential, but also have have struggled to live up to their own high standards and expectations in losses to other 4A contenders.
After beating rival No. 6 Banks 52-49 in a tiebreaker game Saturday night at Tillamook to claim the Cowapa League's top seed to the 4A playoffs, however, No. 4 Seaside is feeling as good as ever about its chances to make a season-ending run.
The win came four days after a 47-32 loss at Banks that forced the Seagulls to share the Cowapa title with the Braves.
“At their place, we just couldn't get any offensive production going,” Seaside coach Bill Westerholm said. “Our execution was horrible.
“But I was proud of the way the kids were able to respond Saturday night and do the things that were asked of them. We were patient in what we did and ended up getting good, quality looks. It's the first time I felt they were on the same page.”
Cash Corder, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, scored 20 points and senior guard Ever Sibony made four three-pointers and added 18 points to lead the Seagulls (18-6).
Tied 24-24 at half, Seaside surged ahead of the Braves (17-6) in the third quarter and led the rest of the way. Banks, which got 23 points from senior forward Cooper Gobel, pulled to within four points in the last two minutes, but Seaside senior forward Conner Langmo hit a big three-pointer to keep the Braves at bay.
The Seagulls earn a home date in the round of 16 on March 4. With a win, they will secure a spot in the eight-team 4A tournament at Marshfield and North Bend high schools March 10-12.
“They had to battle to get to where they are,” Westerholm said. “They never gave up. They kept believing in what we've been telling them all year. We're just on to the next phase, and that's to make a run at a trophy.”
It's familiar territory for Seaside, which won 4A titles in 2017 and 2018 and placed second in 2016 and 2019. The Seagulls lost in the first round in 2020 and did not qualify for the 4A Showcase last season.
The winning tradition has been both a blessing and a curse for the Seagulls this season, according to Westerholm.
“They've been kind of picked as the next group that's going to make a run, from the time they were in middle school,” Westerholm said. “And they haven't had those couple years to keep developing their competitive edge.
“I think it tight ballgames this year, you can see that they've maybe felt that pressure that they're not supposed to lose, and it's been a hindrance on them. That's why I was happy with the way they responded Saturday night because I feel like we jumped that hurdle.”
Sibony is leading Seaside in scoring at about 16 points per game, followed by Corder and Langmo at 14 and 12, respectively. The team's other starters are senior forward Jared White and senior wing Carson Kawasoe.
The Seagulls split two regular-season meetings with Banks, losing on the road 47-40 on Jan. 28. Their other losses this season came against 4A No. 1 Junction City, 4A No. 2 Marshfield, Corbett, 2A No. 2 Knappa and 6A No. 3 West Linn.
No. 2 Marshfield won 50-35 at No. 1 Junction City in the regular-season finale Friday to earn a share of the 4A Sky-em League title with the Tigers.
Senior Mason Ainsworth scored 15 points and senior Dom Montiel added 13 points for the Pirates (21-4, 9-1), who avenged a 43-42 home loss to Junction City on Jan. 28.
“It was a great effort all around,” Marshfield coach Casey McCord told The World. “The boys were focused and executed on both ends of the floor. … We were able to get a quality win against a quality opponent on their home floor.”
Junior Court Knabe made five three-pointers and scored 15 points for Junction City (21-3, 9-1), which had its 15-game winning streak snapped.
La Grande grabs GOL No. 1
Senior guards Devin Bell and Brady Hutchins scored 23 and 22 points, respectively, as La Grande handled host Baker 69-52 on Saturday in a tiebreaker to determine the No. 1 playoff seed in the 4A Greater Oregon League.
The Tigers (16-2, 5-1) and Bulldogs (17-6, 5-1) split two regular-season meetings, with Baker winning on the road 67-41 and La Grande returning the favor 76-44.
In the third meeting Saturday, the Tigers broke from a 12-12 tie and never looked back. They went on a 16-6 run to open a 31-20 lead at half and pushed the advantage to 45-22 midway through the third quarter.
Hutchins made five three-pointers for the Tigers. La Grande was 22 of 36 from the free-throw line and Baker finished 4 for 4.
Baker averages a 4A-high 68 points per game but scored 44 and 52 points in the last two games against La Grande, its two lowest totals of the season.
“Their length worked in their favor for sure,” Baker coach Jebron Jones told the Baker City Herald of the Tigers. “They got a lot of deflections.”
Sophomores Hudson Spike and Paul Hobson scored 17 and 12 points, respectively, to lead Baker.