HILLSBORO — Back in November, Astoria head coach Kevin Goin stated, “Seaside has to be the clear-cut favorite,” in Cowapa League boys basketball. In December, Seaside coach Bill Westerholm said, “I have a feeling we’ll see Astoria in the championship game of our Tournament (of Champions).”

Little did either coach know at the time (both predictions came true, by the way), that their teams were headed for a Clatsop Clash meeting in the state tournament quarterfinals.

And — for the third time in four meetings this year — the winner was Seaside Thursday night at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, 54-27.

The Gulls held Astoria to a season-low in points, and a 21-7 run in the fourth quarter closed it out for Seaside, which advances to the 4A state semifinals for another late night Cowapa League matchup (8:15 tonight) vs. Scappoose for a spot in Saturday’s state title game.

Astoria moves into the consolation bracket, where the Fishermen will face Marshfield Friday morning in Forest Grove.

For the Fishermen ... man, it was just one of those days.

“Our bus broke down on (Highway) 26 coming over,” Goin said. “We had a flat tire, and had to get picked up by a Banks bus, so we got here late.”

And it didn’t get much better after the opening tip.

Astoria never got into a flow offensively, and had 11 turnovers by halftime ... which didn’t go well with their 13 total points in the first half.

“Derek (Jarrett, who picked up his third foul late in the second period) getting in foul trouble hurt us a lot, and we just didn’t execute,” Goin said. “A lot of standing around, a lot of hesitation ... we know we can play better than that.”

Meanwhile, it wasn’t a great first half for the Gulls, either.

Hunter Thompson made a pair of 3-pointers, but Seaside missed on 10 other attempts. The Gulls had just 21 points at the break.

The game started a half-hour later than the original start time, as Scappoose defeated Marshfield in double overtime in the game prior.

“Maybe (the late start) affected both teams in the first half,” Westerholm said. “Neither team shot the ball very well. Astoria did a nice job defensively. They stayed in that 1-2-2 (zone) for a long time. They were trying to get (Justin) Fruiht out on our shooters, and we didn’t do a very good job of passing the ball and trying to get it down low.

“We were settling for perimeter shots, and that’s why we just didn’t score the ball very well in the first half.”

Seaside’s momentum finally kicked into gear as Attikin Babb knocked down a 3-pointer to close the third period, and Thompson made one to start the fourth.

Babb added another triple, Thompson scored on a breakaway, and just like that, Seaside led 41-21.

“Seaside does a good job with their guards, taking us out of our normal sets,” Goin said. “We kind of slow to a crawl against them, and that’s a testament to Thompson and (Jackson) Januik.”

Seaside’s Jaxson Smith led all scorers with 15 points, followed by Thompson with 11 and Austin Eagon with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Astoria finished 11-of-35 from the field.

Like a politician dropping out of a presidential campaign, Goin gave his endorsement to the Gulls, who have beaten Scappoose twice already this year.

“I still think to this day that they’re the best team around here,” Goin said of the Gulls. “I thought we competed in the first half, but their guards do a great job, and we didn’t play our game. We didn’t pass the ball, we didn’t execute, and we didn’t rise to the occasion very well.”

Westerholm said, “Astoria was never able to start shooting the ball very well, and we finally got out of that funk. So we’re happy to get this first one, and hopefully Astoria goes on and wins tomorrow to keep the Cowapa League strong.

“We have Scappoose, and they’re playing some pretty good ball.”

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