The Seaside girls basketball team is now a perfect 4-0 in the Sweet 16, over the last four years.
As a result, the Lady Gulls will make their fourth straight appearance in the state tournament, for another run at the elusive state title.
The Gulls locked up their spot in the quarterfinals with a 38-31 win at Molalla Saturday, as Seaside senior Maddi Utti overcame a first half injury to score 20 points in the victory.
Seaside will open the state tournament Thursday against Cascade, in a 1:30 p.m. tip-off at Forest Grove High School (the Seaside boys play at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Pacific University).
The winner of Thursday’s game will face either Sutherlin or Mazama in the semifinals.
Seaside had to overcome a small first half deficit to beat the Indians.
Back-to-back scores by Sierra Cox and Alicia Schultz had Molalla in front 13-4 early in the second quarter, but the Gulls rallied back with baskets by Utti and Sydney Villegas and trailed just 20-16 at halftime.
One of the leading candidates for Class 4A state Player of the Year, Utti scored the first seven points of the second half, and a layup by Villegas gave the Gulls a 25-20 advantage.
Molalla answered with a six-point run of its own and led 26-25 going into the final quarter.
But with one of the toughest defenses in the state at the 4A level, the Gulls held the Indians to just five points over the final eight minutes.
And Seaside put it away early in the period with back-to-back 3-pointers from Bryre Babbitt and Emy Kiser, for an insurmountable 31-26 lead.
The Gulls made five-of-13 free throws in the final minutes to secure the win.
Only three schools have qualified for the last four state tournaments at the 4A level (Mazama, Seaside and Sutherlin), and all three will be in the same half of the bracket to start the tournament.
While it’s the fourth consecutive appearance in the state tournament for the Gulls, Seaside will be looking to snap another streak once it gets there.
Since defeating Henley in a first round game in 2013-14, the Gulls have lost six straight tournament games, going two-and-out the last two seasons.