Coos Bay — The ongoing legacy of the 2022 OES Aardvarks continued on Thursday afternoon in Coos Bay, as OES defeated Creswell 39-32 to advance to the 3A Final Four against Burns, who defeated Santiam Christian 47-43 later on Thursday afternoon. It is believed that OES is the first 16-seed to advance to the Final Four in state history, just a few days after capturing Oregon’s attention with their upset win over undefeated, #1 Willamina in overtime on Saturday night.
As for this chapter, the Aardvarks got out to a 4-0 lead on Creswell behind Cayton Smith’s two free throws and a bucket from Kate Pulley. Samairah Quinones drew first blood for Creswell and was followed up with back-to-back buckets from Emme Whitson to take a 6-4 lead with 4:15 left in the opening quarter. The rest of the first quarter was a back-and-forth boxing match, as they had five lead changes in the final three minutes with Creswell leading 12-11 thanks to Lauren Bailey layup with eight seconds left in the quarter. In the second, the defense was turned up and Creswell went cold. OES took advantage by throwing a shutout in the quarter and taking a 19-12 halftime lead over Creswell, fueled by Cayton Smith’s eight points. Lauren Bailey led Creswell with six points at the half.
The Aardvarks continued to build a lead in the third quarter, with Morgan Mathews, Hollis Hale, and Cayton Smith contributing to the effort that got OES a 27-15 lead with 3:55 left in the third. Executing on Bulldogs turnovers, the Aardvarks led Creswell 29-19 after three quarters, converting ten points in the quarter off of turnovers and offensive boards. Creswell got off to a better start in the fourth, Emma Maness drew a foul from downtown and executed all three free throws, cutting it to a 29-22 deficit early. Hale and Smith worked together to keep it a seven-point OES lead to the 2:49 mark in the game, but Quinones hit a layup to make it 33-28 OES. Down the stretch, Smith and Johnson hit clutch free throws, propelling the Aardvarks to the Final Four 39-32 over Creswell, a continuing legacy of the 16-seed OES squad that has smashed the expectations of the state. Cayton Smith finished with a double-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds for OES, Emme Whitson led Creswell with nine points. OES faces Burns in the 3A semifinals on Friday night, Creswell plays Santiam Christian in the consolation bracket on Friday.