CHS vs Eagle Point gbx

Corvallis High's Alicia Szeto looks for an open teammate in the Spartans' win over Eagle Point on Saturday. Corvallis plays Mid-Willamette Conference rival Silverton in the quarterfinals of the 5A state tournament on Wednesday.

Jesse Skoubo, Corvallis Gazette-Times

It's an unexpected encore from the Corvallis High girls basketball team.

The Spartans are headed back to the 5A tournament.

"It means so much to us," junior wing Sydney Joss said. "No one expected us to do well this year, so the fact that we're at the tournament and doing really well is awesome. We cannot be more excited."

Going into the season, the Spartans weren't among those regarded as tournament teams. Sure, CHS was coming off an appearance in the state title game and finished second in the state last year.

But Leslie Robinson, the Spartans' first-team all-state forward, was gone to Princeton.

Also gone were honorable-mention all-state guard McKenna McGowan and Brooklyn Coe, who was a second-team all-Mid-Willamette Conference pick.

The Spartans did return guard Hannah Creswick and post Alexandria Vallancey-Martinson, but were young.

They bought into Greg Garrison's defensive-first approach and embarked on a tough preseason schedule which included 6A schools West Salem, Clackamas, Roseburg, Sheldon, Thurston and Canby.

The Spartans went 7-3 against their nonconference foes and then did not lose another game until falling short against Silverton at home, 27-23.

The Foxes just so happen to be Corvallis opponent at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday in Gill Coliseum. Corvallis defeated Silverton 45-40 on the road.

"We're so excited to play Silverton," Joss said. "We are so excited for a rematch."

The Spartans have the extra advantage of playing what are essentially home games. While other teams had to travel, Gill Coliseum is just down the street for the CHS players.

"It's pretty exciting having it near us so we don't have to do a road trip and stuff. It's a nice gymnasium to play in," Vallancey-Martinson said.

"It's more local for us so we'll be more ready to play, maybe. Less distractions. Just a better atmosphere."

Said Creswick: "It's going to be so fun to play at Gill. We played there against CV two years ago, maybe, and it was such a good experience. It's such a nice court. It's going to be a lot of fun playing there for state."

Creswick, Stephanie Vallancey-Martinson and Alicia Szeto will be playing their final high school games in the tournament.

"It's the last hurrah," Creswick said. "You might as well just go all out. Might as well work really hard and put it all out on the floor every game because it's one and done. So if we don't play like it's our last, we may not get to go on to the next one."

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