Corvallis — Talk about having flashbacks to pre-pandemic times: A big crowd came to Spartan Country and observed a rivalry throwdown between #7 Crescent Valley and #2 Corvallis, crosstown rivals that serve as Mid-Willamette Conference contenders alongside 5A state contenders, setting up for a throwdown for control of the conference.
It was the home team seizing the early lead, rallying behind Elka Prechel’s early buckets to lead 8-4 on Crescent Valley in the first quarter. The Raiders would turn the tables, as Charlotte Patel and Nicole Huang combined to go on a 9-0 run and flip it to a 13-8 Crescent Valley advantage late in the first as the Raiders led 15-11 after the opening frame. Corvallis would kick off the second with a couple buckets to tie up the game at 15 apiece early, but a technical foul on Corvallis with 5:52 left in the half put the Raiders back ahead 18-15 after the free throws. After trading buckets back and forth, Gabby Bland found her rhythm and caught fire, drilling three consecutive treys on three straight possessions to push Crescent Valley ahead 33-21 at the half over Corvallis. Bland led all scorers with 11 points, including a perfect 3-3 from downtown. Corvallis was anchored by Prechel’s seven first half points.
Crescent Valley’s successes from the opening half would translate in the third, finding success in both the paint with Huang and Patel, and behind the arc with sisters Haley and Gabby Bland. Meanwhile, Corvallis struggled to find buckets down low, being stuffed and contended in the paint by the Raiders at every turn. These failures resulted in a pivot to perimeter shooting, finding success with Sydney Conklin and Taylor Brasfield, pushing ahead momentum that carried into the final quarter. Finding moderate success from deeper ranges, the Spartans jumped on the bandwagon in the fourth quarter, going 6-13 from downtown as part of a 23-point final quarter. Corvallis would push the gap to just 57-54 with less than two minutes left but clutch free throws by Gabby Bland and Huang would be the final nail on an upset victory as #7 Crescent Valley upset #2 Corvallis 60-54 on the road. Gabby Bland led all scorers with 23 points on the evening, Elka Prechel led the Spartans with 20 points in a fierce fourth quarter comeback attempt.
Crescent Valley: This team left no doubts on the floor about their 5A title legitimacy, and it was a full team effort that got them the dub. Three scorers in double digits in Gabby Bland, Charlotte Patel, and Nicole Huang set the foundation on offense, while their stiff paint defense forced Corvallis out of their strength and into Russian Roulette from the perimeter. While the Spartans almost pulled it off, Crescent Valley played the odds and won the war in a hostile environment. That trio cannot be praised enough for their performances, and a shout out to Freshman Kamden Mitchell on her hustle all evening long on the boards, picking up some key rebounds that turned into points throughout the night. CV played well and they were the better team on Thursday, a sign that 5A is in trouble with such a balanced team competing on the floor.
Corvallis: The Spartans met their match, and it was definitely humbling. Their insane perimeter success is what kept this from being a blowout, which presents both encouragement and concern in the same accord. Sevennah Van De Riet kept pushing the envelope in the paint with little success, as the Raiders kept her in check all evening. Only Elka Prechel and Marlee Hammer were also able to find points outside three-point range or the free throw line on Thursday, presenting a problem that Corvallis needs to study and fix before the next meeting. Defensively, they could’ve pressured more throughout, which could have made a difference in CV’s ability to drive on them with Patel and Huang. All in all, not a terrible performance but certainly a reality check for them: They found improvement from three-point range, but need to work on both sides of the paint if they want to mold themselves back into a balanced threat.
Crescent Valley (9-4, 4-0) hosts Central next Thursday, Corvallis (9-3, 3-1) travels to Lebanon next Thursday. Both team’s games with Dallas and West Albany are canceled on Monday due to COVID issues in those programs.