Jaden Guilford knew he had to stay confident and keep shooting, even though shots weren’t falling and his team was facing some challenging odds.
After South Albany High owned the first half of the third quarter with a 10-0 run, the Rebels saw Summit answer back with a 17-2 stretch to steal back the lead and the momentum.
With seven seniors facing possibly their final game, South leaned on its experience, defense and Guilford’s hot hand to pull it out.
The host Rebels forced seven turnovers in the final eight minutes and Guilford scored seven straight to put South back in control of what turned out to be a 49-43 win in an OSAA 5A boys basketball round-of-16 game.
The seventh-seeded Rebels (20-5) advance to the state quarterfinals for the second straight season — and second time in school history — and will play second-seeded Crater (24-1) at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
Jake Costello led South with 25 points, including all 16 of his team’s first-half points. Guilford added 13. Beau Blea had 14 points for 10th-seeded Summit (13-8), of Bend.
Guilford and the Rebels were in a low-scoring game and understood how valuable each fourth-quarter possession was to them.
“Especially defensive, because we know we can score on offense,” said Guilford, a senior guard whose team went to the final eight minutes down six points and trailed by eight early in the period. “We just had to get stops.”
They did, led by senior forward Seth Cullison, who drew the first of two offensive fouls against Summit’s Karson Klecker, a 6-foot-2 wing and an Intermountain Conference first-teamer, that were big game-changers.
Guilford called each “the most clutch play I’ve ever seen.”
The first, with 6:04 to go, got Klecker to four fouls on the Storm’s third straight possession with a turnover and Summit still clinging to a two-point lead.
Teammate Ivan Rodriguez, a senior guard, got in on the action by helping Klecker exit the game with his fifth foul on a charge with 4:30 left in a tie game.
Cullison provided the exclamation point, taking a charge against Evan Heimuller with 36 seconds to go and South up four.
“That’s a focus of ours and I knew I was in the position to take them,” Cullison, adding that charges had been a topic of discussion for the team all week.
Rebels coach Justin Smith said he was unpleased with Cullison’s failed dunk attempt late in the third quarter.
“But he made up for it in the way that he responded defensively in taking those charges,” Smith said. “Then, also, he finished some baskets that were not easy ones.”
Cullison grabbed an offensive rebound off Guilford’s missed free throw. That turned into two more fouls shots – and makes – for Guilford with 3:15 remaining that extended South’s run to 13-0 and the lead to 41-36.
Summit answered back with six quick points to take the lead.
Cullison then scored on a contested layin to put the home team in front. After a defensive stop, Guilford drove toward the key and found Cullison standing all alone under the hoop for an easy two with 1:59 left.
The Rebels had run the same play earlier in the game, but Cullison wasn’t able to corral the ball.
“It was the same ball and that time it was perfect and they triple-teamed him on it,” Cullison said.
Those baskets put South ahead for good. The Storm got a free throw on its next possession but didn’t score again.
Costello and Guilford converted two free throws apiece in the final 40 seconds and the Rebels had their repeat trip to Gill.
“When you have four seniors out there that have played in these type of games, they understood it was going to be the end for them,” Smith said. “I was proud of the way they responded in that fourth quarter.”
Costello had four 3-pointers, all in the first half, including one just before the halftime buzzer that got the Rebels within 17-16.
Both teams had numerous point-blank misses in the first two quarters.
Guilford was particularly unlucky with the bounces not going his way.
“I’ve got to keep my head level. I know sometimes shots won’t fall. That’s the game of basketball,” he said. “The thing about shooters is you’ve got to keep shooting and keep your head up, and that’s what I tried to do.”
Saturday’s game was a rematch of a 2017 5A consolation semifinal, which Summit won 68-47 to assure itself of a team trophy and keep South Albany from one of its own.