“Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk.
Talk about things you’d like to do.
You’ve got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?”
— South Pacific (1949)
COOS BAY — At the beginning of the year, it sounded a little far-fetched even to the guy who was doing the talking.
“At the start of the year we had only two starters back,” Clatskanie girls coach John Blodgett said in the mayhem of his Tiger team’s extraordinary 3A championship, achieved with a 40-39 victory over Blanchet Catholic of Salem at Marshfield High School on Saturday night.
“I told them to aspire to three things: First, a league championship. Only twice has that ever happened with Clatskanie girls.
“Second, maybe get here to Coos Bay for the tournament — that had never happened to the school — and if we play well, win a game. And, maybe, win the championship.”
The evidence of his foresight was all around him. Clatskanie students who came down from River City to cheer for both the Tiger boys and girls teams were milling around with their Tiger classmates, not completely sure what had just happened but only sure that it was a great thing.
Two things about the championship game: First, it wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicates. Blanchet Catholic’s splendid senior guard, Ana Coronado threw in two three-pointers in the last 4.5 seconds of the game to account for the final score.
Second, it wasn’t at all an upset. The fourth-seeded Tigers, who spanked top-seeded Burns in the Friday semifinal, beat the third-seeded PacWest Conference co-champion from the very start of the game.
Maybe even before that. The Tigers started four sophomores (Shelby Blodgett, Alexis Smith, Kaity Sizemore, Olivia Sprague) and a junior (old Annabelle Martin), so Blodgett had some convincing to do before he even brought his team down from Clatskanie.
But there was no convincing the Tigers’ second-quarter effort. They had squandered a 6-1 lead in a slow first quarter and actually fell behind 8-6 early in the second period.
Then the sophomores got hot. Sprague dropped a three-pointer from the top of the key, then 25 seconds later Smith duplicated the feat from the left corner. Blodgett added a free throw.
After the Cavaliers’ Hailey Ostby bandaged the bleeding with a free throw, Smith hit another three-ball from the same corner. Sprague hit from the key, then with 2:43 left before halftime buried another three-pointer.
Now the Tiger cubs were up 21-9. And the Cavaliers’ bigger problems were on the other end anyhow. They had a hard time even getting a shot off inside the key, let alone getting one to go in.
They hit just 4 of 17 shots in the first half and only 15 of 42 (35.7 percent) for the game. Hard to come back like that.
The Tigers got ran the margin out to 31-19 with Shelby Blodgett’s follow of a teammate’s miss, then the things got a little interesting.
Interesting, but not really perilous.
Ostby, Trinity Phipps and Coronado led a slow comeback by finally finding the door to the key. The Cavaliers, who trailed by 10 at the end of the third quarter, cut the margin in half and got within 35-30 with 2:19 to go.
Doable, but the Cavs had to foul to stop the clock. The Tigers hit five free throws the rest of the way, and only Coronado’s two grenades made it look close.
Shelby Blodgett, who hit two of those free throws in the last minute and led her team with 15 points and 14 rebounds, reminisced about the start of the season.
“We honestly wanted to get here,” she said. “No girls team from Clatskanie has ever won a state event. We thought, ‘Hey, that would be great,’ but I can’t tell you that we ever thought it would happen.”
Well, it did.
Sprague added 14 points for the Tigers, who got all their scoring from sophomores. Coronado led all scorers with 19. Ostby contributed 10.