The fourth quarter belonged to South Albany High.
Triggered by their tenaciousness and athleticism, the Rebels turned Thursday night’s Mid-Willamette Conference boys basketball matchup into a rout, using a late 20-5 run to put away visiting Woodburn. South won the game 71-54, improving its overall record to 9-0.
“I feel like we have a lot of momentum,” second-year Rebels coach Justin Smith said. “We have a lot of confidence right now, especially coming off this win because we played some good teams in nonconference and tonight we wanted to see where we stacked up with our league. And I think we started out pretty well tonight.”
South Athletic Director Tony Matta said it’s the first 9-0 start in program history.
Junior Jake Costello led the Rebels (1-0 MWC) with 25 points, scoring nine in the final period. South led 49-45 entering the fourth and outscored Woodburn (7-3, 0-1) 22-9 in the quarter.
“I think that’s a very good team and I’m very happy with the way we played,” Costello said. “We’ve got to be ready for their best shot the second time because that’s a very good basketball team.”
The Rebels opened the fourth on a 12-2 run, getting seven of the points from Costello. The 6-foot-2 swingman’s transition putback made it 61-47 with 5:28 remaining.
South continued to pour it on, going up 69-50 on a Tyler Anderson foul shot. Many of the points came in fast-break situations.
“We really wanted to try to get out and run because they are going to get out and press us and press off missed baskets as well,” Smith said. “We are as athletic as anybody so we want to get out and run, and that’s what we look to do. As soon as we get that rebound we are going to get out and go. The kids just kept building off what we were doing, and they did a good job of that.”
Senior guard Carson Mlsna added 15 for the Rebels while junior point Jaden Guilford had 10. Sophomore post Kyle Miller came off the bench to score nine.
Andy Ellingson led the Bulldogs with 19 points. Luis Salazar added 14.
South and Woodburn were knotted at 19 after a fast-paced opening quarter in which Costello and Ellingson had 10 points apiece. Ellingson connected on a last-second 3-pointer to even the score.
A Miller transition layin capped an 8-0 run that put the Rebels up 29-23 midway through the second quarter. The lead swelled to 35-25 on consecutive transition buckets by Guilford and Anderson.
The Rebels led 35-27 at halftime.
Woodburn trimmed the deficit to 41-39 on back-to-back 3s by Ellingson and Trevor Karsseboom. But South withstood the charge and held a 49-45 advantage heading to the fourth.
While happy to be 9-0, Costello said the Rebels are far from satisfied entering Wednesday’s MWC road opener at Central.
“I think it’s a confidence builder, but I don’t think we’ve really proved anything,” Costello said. “We’ve got six more league teams to play and then we’ve got to play them all again. We’ve just got to keep going.”