HILLSBORO — Seaside endured another pretty good-sized storm over the weekend.
It came in the form of the Philomath Warriors, who indeed caused a little power outage for the Seaside boys basketball team late Saturday night, in the championship game of the Class 4A state tournament.
In front of a standing-room-only, packed house at Liberty High School, the normally high-energy, high-scoring Gulls were grounded for much of the night, and had trouble mounting their normally potent offensive attack.
The Warriors — the No. 1 seed in the tournament — led from start to finish, but had to hold off a furious fourth-quarter rally by the No. 2 seed Gulls in a 55-45 win.
Philomath finishes 24-3 overall, while the Gulls conclude their history-making season at 23-4.
The mood inside the Seaside locker room after the game was a bit dark and somber — but power was quickly restored, and the lights are still burning bright for the Seaside program, despite the loss.
After all, there’s still plenty to be proud of. A Cowapa League championship, another 20-win season, and the school’s first-ever appearance in a boys basketball championship game.
The title will just have to wait for another day.
“We’ve got more kids on the way,” said Seaside coach Bill Westerholm. “We’re going to spend a lot of time in this place.”
Had the Gulls had another two or three minutes, they might have caught the Warriors, who played a part in the Seaside comeback by missing seven free throws in the final 3:32 of the fourth quarter.
Junior Austin Gerding (Philomath’s Player of the Game, who scored 21 points), scored on a layup at the buzzer to end the third quarter, and the Warriors held a 43-32 lead early in the fourth.
For the second night in a row, Seaside dominated the rebounds (with 17 offensive boards), and Zach Marston scored on a putback that sparked an 11-2 run for the Gulls.
Four-straight free throws by Jackson Januik had Seaside trailing 45-43 with 2:16 left, and the prospects looked good for a Gulls’ win.
But Seaside just could not find the right touch from the 3-point line in the final two minutes, as they finished 4-of-24 from the behind the arc. Even their normally reliable shooters, Januik and Attikin Babb, were a combined 0-for-11 from the 3-point line.
“We crawled back after they went up 10, but they hit the big shots,” Westerholm said of the Warriors. Seaside was assessed two technical fouls in the second half, mostly out of frustration. “They (officials) let a lot go and don’t call things, but our kids kept battling.”
Austin Eagon led the Gulls with a hard-earned 11 points in his final game, while Hunter Thompson and Jaxson Smith scored 10 apiece. Eagon had 13 rebounds for Seaside, which finished as the top rebounding team in the tournament.
Westerholm spent time consoling his players in the minutes after the game.
“It was a great season,” he said. “We talked about four goals. The kids are disappointed, but any time you can accomplish three out of the four goals you set, you’ve done a nice job.
“This was a special group of kids for us,” said Westerholm, whose father Jerry passed away midway through the season. “They helped me in a time when I needed their help. We’ve been with each other for a long season. We battled and competed together.”
Seaside basketball has “a long history, and it’s never an easy thing to get here,” he said, of Seaside’s first appearance in the final. “These kids have a lot to be proud of. And we have a lot of guys who put time into this group for our youth program. That’s one of the reasons why we’re a great team.”