Huskies reach end of road at Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley 40, Sweet Home 29

After a narrow first-round win at Seaside on March 5, 50-47, the Huskies faltered in their quest through the state basketball playoffs at Hidden Valley Saturday night, losing 40-29.

Hidden Valley, in the Grants Pass area, is the number-one defensive team in the state, Huskies Coach Tim Little said. The team, with a season 21-4 record, is on better than a 60-game winning streak at home.

“We’re proud of the kids and the way they played,” Little said. “It’s a very tough place to play, a very tough team.”

He has no regrets when it comes to the way his team played, he said. The Huskies put out their best effort.

The team the Huskies faced operates on a similar philosophy, Little said.

With that, Hidden Valley built a small 10-6 lead in the first quarter. Even by halftime, the lead, 16-9, hadn’t grown much.

“There was a feeling we’d get things going offensively,” Little said. The Huskies have been down often at halftime.

The Huskies came out in the third quarter and turned the ball over first thing, he said. “They came down and scored. All of the sudden we’re down nine. A team like Hidden Valley, once they get up on you, they’re definitely going to take their time offensively and limit your chances of scoring.”

Hidden Valley was more physical than the Huskies in this game too, he said. “It just got us out of our rhythm a little bit. We didn’t have any open looks all night.”

The Huskies caught a glimmer of hope after Ryan Graville sank a pair of threes and they got within five, 24-19, Little said, but Hidden Valley scored two straight to lead 28-19 at the end of the third quarter.

“They had the opportunity to watch us play,” Little said. That’s something the Huskies didn’t get a chance to do with Hidden Valley. “They were prepared for us.”

Hidden Valley defense put a blanket on the Huskies’ leading scorer, Gabe Kauffman, he said. On the flip side, “defensively, we played pretty well.”

The Huskies met their defensive goal, to hold opponents to 40 points per game.

Hidden Valley is the best defensive team and probably the best team overall the Huskies have played this year, Little said. Hidden Valley will do well at state, although Hidden Valley will face another top team, Brookings Harbor, in the quarterfinals.

In the Val-Co, Newport and Philomath both made the final eight at Gill Coliseum, Little said, which shows just how tough league play was this year, where a possession or two during the season could have easily changed who won the league title and routes through the state tournament.

Graville led Husky scoring against Hidden Valley with 10 points. Kauffman added eight; Colton Emmert, seven; Jared Olsen, two; and Brent Moyer, two.

Kyle Blesser led Hidden Valley scoring with 12 points. Earl Crawford and Saxon Gotfried each added 10 points.

Sweet Home 50, Seaside 47

In a dramatic game that went to the wire on March 5, Seaside started building a solid lead about halfway through the first quarter of action when Husky shooting seemed to go a little cold. Heading into the second quarter, the Huskies trailed 19-12.

Olsen got things going in the second quarter with back-to-back buckets. Kauffman scored following a double dribbling call against the Seagulls to get within a point, 19-18, two minutes into the quarter. With three minutes left, Emmert sank a short jumper to go ahead 21-20.

Trading baskets with Seaside, the Huskies led 23-22 at halftime. The Huskies led 39-36 at the end of the third quarter.

The Huskies ran a two- to four-point lead through the end of the game when the Seagulls managed to get within a point with just seconds left.

Emmert scored from the foul line with 14 seconds left, forcing Seaside to attempt a three. Chris Senick missed the three at the last second.

“I was worried they were going to hit a last-second shot to tie it up,” Coach Tim Little said. “There at the end, we made sure we contested everything they shot.

“I think we did a lot better job taking care of the ball and shooting well from the free throw line to make sure we’d win.

Kauffman and Graville led Husky scoring with 14 points each. Emmert added eight points; Moyer, five; Riggs, five; and Olsen, four.

Ed Kauffinger and Justin Laird led Seaside with 11 points each; Senick, eight; Dom Walker, eight; Damian Olivar, six; and Nathan Farmer, three.

The Huskies lose four seniors, including their two primary offensive weapons, Kauffman, Emmert, Olsen and Dustin Hay.

“This (Hidden Valley) by far was the toughest locker room emotionally at the end of the game,” Little said. “This is a very difficult group to say goodbye to.”

These seniors, especially, Kauffman, Emmert and Hay, have invested as much into basketball as anyone, and they’re the first players who Little has had for four years as coach.

“We’ve got a good core coming up,” Little said. This year’s sophomores are strong, and Brandon Oswalt, Zane Wise, Josh Riggs and Ryan Graville will provide strong leadership next year as seniors.

The Huskies also have two sophomores with significant playing time in state playoffs, Moyer and Levi Marchbanks. Graville came on strong in the last six or seven games, rivaling Kauffman in point production, while Moyer and Marchbanks started regularly putting points on the board.

“I think we’re solid,” Little said. “But obviously we lose the biggest offensive weapons we’ve had (Emmert and Kauffman).”

What remains has great team chemistry, he said. The whole experience with playoffs will help them next year.