When it shares the ball and plays together, Crescent Valley High is a difficult team to beat.
The Raiders did both in Thursday night’s Mid-Willamette Conference boys basketball finale, cruising to a 63-46 victory over visiting Central. CV (14-10, 9-5) played terrific zone defense for the majority of the game while all 10 Raiders who saw the floor on senior night scored.
“It’s nice to see guys work together as a unit,” CV coach Mike Stair said. “When we work together as a unit and we are unselfish, we create a lot of good opportunities for ourselves. And when we are unselfish, I think we do a better job defensively.”
CV, which will host a 5A state play-in round game next week, limited Central (15-9, 7-7) to just 14 first-half points.
The Panthers struggled to generate quality shot attempts against the attacking zone defense, leading to several turnovers and run-outs for the Raiders.
“We worked on the zone a lot in practice, and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work out,” said CV senior Spencer Boock, who finished with 12 points.
The Raiders, last year’s MWC champions, secured third place with Thursday’s victory. They will face either Ashland (7-16) or North Eugene (5-18) in the play-in round and would advance to the round of 16 with a win.
Silverton (21-1, 13-0) has already clinched the MWC title while South Albany (18-5, 11-2), which plays Friday night at Corvallis (9-14, 5-8), will also receive an automatic berth to the round of 16.
CV has won three straight games after suffering consecutive losses to Corvallis and South Albany. An emphasis on teamwork sparked the turnaround.
“We’ve really come out and played together,” Boock said. “Instead of playing more 1-on-5, we’ve played a lot of 5-on-5. We’ve just worked together as a team and on defense.”
Senior AJ Sandvig paced the Raiders with 16 points while fellow senior Tariq Harris added 11. Central’s Peter Mendazona had a game-high 20 points.
CV, which led by 14 at the break, opened up a 39-21 advantage on five straight points from Sandvig. Harris then threw down a one-handed fast-break dunk that made it 42-23 midway through the third.
With their defense in complete control, the Raiders’ lead was 48-27 heading to the fourth.
“I was pretty happy tonight with how we played in our zone,” Stair said. “I thought at times it definitely slowed the pace of the game, but it created the opportunity for us to jump into some trap situations.”
A Harris straight-away 3 put the Raiders up 5-2 early in the opening period. Sandvig later knocked down a triple of his own that gave CV a 12-6 lead after one.
Another 3 from Harris — this time from the left corner — put the Raiders up 17-8. Boock and Sandvig made consecutive transition layins that pushed the lead to double figures, and a Boock floater made it 27-14 at halftime.
“It was a great feeling to do that on senior night,” Boock said. “I know I had a lot of friends here to watch me, and it was fun.”
The Raiders honored seven senior before the game: Kyle Killen, Nate Olsen, Mitch Graff, Anshul Prasad, Boock, Harris and Sandvig.
“Seniors on senior night, you never know what you’re going to get when you get a lead,” Stair said. “So I’m happy that we got a couple kids that have not played very much a lot of playing time, made a couple shots and they got to have some fun in front of their friends.”