As Mid-Willamette Conference boys basketball play gets rolling, Crescent Valley is still finding its way as a team.
The Raiders started the MWC schedule with Silverton, the OSAA's top-ranked 5A team, on Tuesday evening at CV.
The Raiders entered the game after an uneven nonconference stretch, winning two to start the season, losing five in a row and then ending on a three-game win streak.
CV did not come up with all the answers but the Raiders set a potentially positive tone for the rest of the season in a 73-53 loss to the Foxes.
"I think right now as a team we're in a good spot," CV senior wing Tariq Harris said. "We're good at playing with each other and sharing the ball and not being selfish, and I just think that (Silverton) was a great physical team that's been playing together for a long time and just knows how to bring out the weaknesses in other teams and that's what they did. They wanted it more, but I feel like as a team that if we keep working that we'll be able to give them a good run at their house."
Harris said the Raiders were determined not to let the recent success lead to sloppy play.
"We knew that coming into this game that this isn't going to be a team like we've already played," Harris said. "This is a team that is one of the best teams in the state. They have a great coach and a great guard, Cade Roth."
The Raiders hung tough in the first and trailed 14-12 after putting together a 12-3 run to counter an 11-0 start for Silverton.
The Foxes were able to take charge in the second, gradually widening the gap by hitting three 3-pointers and using aggressive, attacking play. CV drew within 23-20 with two free throws by Kyle Killen, but managed just three more points in the quarter.
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The Raiders played sound basketball in spurts but too often slipped out of the mode, while Silverton stayed steady.
"They're pretty steady, they're pretty consistent," CV coach Mike Stair said. "I told the kids at halftime I thought really we struggled at the beginning, but I thought that we had a pretty good 12- or 13-minute stretch in the first half and I think right at the end of the first half we definitely showed the wear and they went on a run to extend the lead out at halftime. So those are things that we have to work on. We have to work on minimizing the opponent's runs by having good quality offensive possessions, and then usually when we execute on offense we play harder on defense."
The Raiders could not recover from the 11-point halftime gap despite playing well in spurts throughout the second half.
The Foxes are adept at perimeter shooting and hit 11 3-pointers. Cade Roth hit seven on the way to 35 points.
"I don't think we defended the 3-point line as well as we're capable of and definitely not as well as we need to," Stair said. "We knew going in that they had multiple shooters and that was an emphasis in practice, and I think it's something we need to get better at. We just need to be fundamental in how we defend guys."
Harris led the Raiders with 19 points and Killen added 10.
Stair said the Raiders had been struggling with their fundamentals and he had made it an area of focus in practice.
He said the team is playing as a unit and the players are starting to trust each other more on offense, which is leading to some good scoring opportunities. But the Raiders need to make sure they finish those chances.
"There were definitely good stretches in this game where we executed what we were trying to accomplish on both ends of the floor," he said. "That being said, I think when we get tired either physically or mentally, we really struggle to defend people and we gave up a couple of big runs and I think those were magnified by some turnovers. So we still have a lot to work on and I think we have a chance to be good, but we have to want to work every single day and I think we're getting better at that. But you go against a team like Silverton, who I think is a candidate to win the state title, and it shows we still have work to do."