Kyleigh Brown scored 26 for Silverton in its early-afternoon win over Mountain View (Andre Panse)
Kyleigh Brown scored 26 for Silverton in its early-afternoon win over Mountain View (Andre Panse)

MCMINNVILLE – Top-seeded Crater toppled defending state champion Springfield, 55-39, on Thursday night, putting constant pressure on the Millers to get them to crack just enough to prevail at the 2024 OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union Girls 5A Basketball State Championships at Linfield University.

The game was played at a breakneck pace virtually for the entire 32 minutes. And while Springfield has seen its Midwestern League rivals twice before this year, the Millers were unable to do enough to hang with the Comets for all four quarters.

At the end of one quarter, the teams were tied at 5-5, with each team having just one field goal. The pace was frenetic but futile.

There’s a saying in basketball: “Play fast but don’t hurry.”

Both teams played fast.

But they hurried.

As a result, there were long periods when a lot and nothing happened all at once, like the first quarter, where the teams combined to shoot 2-for-22 from the floor with 21 turnovers.

The frenzy continued for four quarters, but Crater experienced less futility in the second. Sparked by Abigail Winslow, the Comets outscored Springfield, 21-10, to take an 11-point lead to the locker room at halftime. Winslow’s successive threes, half of her 12 points in the period; and another triple from Sam Gish, gave the Comets a 16-8 lead, the first significant separation between the teams in the game. Springfield cut the lead to five on a corner three from Sailor Hall, but Crater finished the half with a 3-ball from Sage Winslow and a steal and score from Abigail Winslow to close the half.

Crater stagnated a bit in the third quarter. The Comets are so used to scoring in transition that when Springfield had time to set up in a zone defense on its end, the Comets either held the ball for most of the shot clock or forced matters, which often led to a turnover. Springfield, getting nice play from Kayla Morris, Diamond Wright and Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam, fought back into the game, once getting as close as 30-25 before Sage Winslow rainbowed a perfect wing three to stop a Miller run.

The margin was five again just seconds into the final period, after Kimora Wright stole the ball and went all the way for a Springfield score. At that point, Springfield had outscored Crater, 17-11, in the second half. Crater coach Scott Dippel’s plan to wear down Springfield was not working.

Ultimately, the difference maker in the game may have been Lydia Traore. The longer than long 6-4 junior, who is busy acting as rim protector while her teammates are putting on the full court pressure; scored two baskets in close to blunt Springfield’s momentum. Gish and Alexa Gugliotta also converted short shots and Sage Winslow answered Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam’s long three with a banked three of her own that made the margin 11 with three minutes to play, effectively ending the game.

After the game, Springfield coach Joe Williamson said that 25 turnovers were not ideal, but that his team still could have won had it not shot 2-for-14 from the three-point arc and 11-for-23 from the free throw line.

“That’ll do it,” he said. “We cut back on turnovers in the second half but we didn’t shoot the ball well enough from the field or free throw line to compete with a team like Crater.”

Springfield’s loss was its third to Crater (25-1) this season, including a one possession game at home early in February.

“We have played them closer than anybody,” Williamson said. “We should have won that game at home and probably wouldn’t be playing them tonight [in the quarterfinals] if we’d gotten them at home and hadn’t given up a late lead.”

All of which begs the question: if a veteran team like Springfield, with a championship pedigree, can’t handle everything that Crater brings to the table, what chance does anyone else have to stop a Crater team on a quest for a first state title?

“Teams have struggled all year with Crater’s intensity and pressure,” Williamson said. “But they can be beat. You just have to make shots. They give you looks and we had looks. It was just one of those games when nobody shot well for us.”

“And we had chances at the foul lines,” he continued. “Twenty-three times at the foul line is great. You can’t just make 11.”

Crater coach Scott Dippel said that the key to being successful playing Comet-style “94 feet of hell” is team speed and the different looks the Comets utilize.

“We vary stuff up enough to where it’s hard to predict where the pressure is going to come from,” he said.

Dippel admitted that the game wasn’t a thing of beauty but he was satisfied with how his charges played.

“We did a good job of keeping our poise at different spots but it was wild and kind of frantic there for a while,” Dippel admitted. “But I love it.”

“We got some big plays from Sam Gish and others on the bench when we got into foul trouble,” Dipple continued. “Down at the end we just could not let Danaeja beat us. In the last two minutes every time she touched the ball we threw four people at her.”

Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam, the two-time 5A state Player of the Year, finished with a team-high 15 points, but she shot just 5-of-14 and turned the ball over nine times.

Abigail Winslow led Crater with 17 points and six steals. Sage Winslow had 14 points, eight steals and eight rebounds. Traore had 12 points, five rebounds and three steals. With the win, the Comets avenged a 15-point state tournament loss to Springfield in the semifinals last year.

“This year we are so much more prepared,” Traore said. “We are kind of the underdog when it comes to the tournament but we are so strong together.”

In other Thursday girls quarterfinals…

No. 1 Silverton 53, No. 8 Mountain View 40

Kyleigh Brown scored 16 points before the half and the Foxes went on a 22-5 run to turn a slim first-quarter deficit into an imposing second quarter lead in their commanding first-round win.

Trailing 26-11 after Justina Semerikov nailed a wing three on one of Brown’s four first-half assists, Mountain View went on a mini-run sparked by the rugged inside play of Avery Andrews. The Cougars, however, could not cut Silverton’s lead to single digits and the Foxes scored the last five points of the half to take a 33-17 lead into the break.

Mountain View showed some fight and cut the lead to eight in the third quarter behind the play of its standout seniors Kasey Booster and Avery Andrews, but Brown came right back with five quick points to lengthen the Silverton lead once more and Grace Hayashida laid one in at the buzzer to make it 45-32 Foxes after three.

Mountain View did not make it comfortable for Silverton over the last eight minutes. With Brown saddled with four fouls, the Cougars again cut the Silverton lead to single digits, as Andrews showed off her inside/outside game. They could get no closer than nine, however, as Silverton got clutch work from freshman Marley Wertz and good passing from Olivia Boyd before Brown re-entered and scored to put the game out of reach.

Brown had a monster game for Silverton, scoring 26 with 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals. Hayashida also reached double figures with 12 points.

Andrews and Booster combined for 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in the loss.

No. 5 Redmond 45, No. 4 Wilsonville 39, O.T.

Redmond outscored Wilsonville, 8-2, in overtime to win a quarterfinal game that will be remembered as much for turnovers -- 29 from Wilsonville and 25 from Redmond – as the intensity and effort exhibited by the two teams and the excitement of the ebbs and flows.

Redmond led, 18-17, in a ragged first half, but stormed to a lead thanks to a 9-0 burst to start the third, highlighted by seven points from shooting guard Dylan Cheney. Wilsonville didn’t help itself by committing four more turnovers in the first two and one-half minutes of the quarter and soon found itself down 31-18 after Panther freshman Freya Snow, who had a sneaky good game; scored inside with just over three minutes remaining.

Wilsonville rallied thereafter and what a furious rally it was! It started with a loose ball bucket from Payton Ratcliffe, and continued with spirited play from Audrey Counts, who played with abandon despite having four fouls. The 12-2 run, capped by Lily Scanlan’s breakaway hoop at the buzzer, made it just a three-point game in Redmond’s favor, 33-30.

Wilsonville finally tied the game with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, on a long three from sophomore Gabi Moultrie; but the Wildcats could never reclaim the lead they last had at 10-8 in the first. The teams were tied again at 35-35 and 37-37, but neither could score over the last 2:33, forcing extra time.

The key moment in overtime came with less than a minute to play when Mylaena Norton took a pass from Aspen Morris and was able to finish in traffic with her left hand. The bucket gave the Panthers a two-possession lead, a margin they were able to maintain to the end.

Cheney finished with 20 points and seven rebounds for Redmond, which advanced to the semifinals for the first time in school history. Her three at the first quarter buzzer gave Redmond a lead going into the second quarter that the Panthers held for most of the game. Snow added nine points, 12 rebounds and four steals.

Ratcliffe finished with eight points, eight rebounds and five blocks in the loss for Wilsonville. Counts contributed eight points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Moultrie, a prolific scorer for the Wildcats, finished with just nine points on 3-of-19 shooting, a rare off day for the sophomore star.

No. 6 South Albany 48, No. 3 Corvallis 38

South Albany led start to finish in defeating conference rival Corvallis for the third time in as many games this year. The win also was the first-ever for the RedHawks in state tournament play.

This was a complete win for South Albany, which had different heroes at different stages of the game. Early, Ava Marshall was the catalyst, assisting on the RedHawks first four baskets in a 10-4 start after eight minutes. Maddie Angel and Kaylee Cordle for 10 points in the second quarter as South Albany extended its lead to nine, 22-13, at the half.

Sophomore standout Taylor Donaldson was the difference maker for South Albany in the third period. After a relatively quiet first half, the versatile Donaldson, who averages 21 points per game; scored 11 in the quarter, dominating in the key and even stepping outside to hit a long three. Her complete control helped South Albany extend its lead further to 14, 42-28, going into the fourth quarter.

Taylor Brasfield scored from long range for Corvallis to pare South Albany’s lead to 11 early in the fourth, but the Spartans could not get closer than that until the game’s closing seconds, when Marlee Hammer scored the last of her team-high 15 points.

Donaldson finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for the victors. Angel added 11 points and six rebounds. Marshall scored just two points but she had six pivotal assists.

For Corvallis, Holland Jensen and Kate Rueck complemented Hammer’s big game by teaming for 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists.