South Albany had looks at the basket. They just couldn’t get one to drop.
The Rebels led much of the way against Corvallis but facing a one-point deficit, the Rebels could not capitalize on shots in the paint and fell 48-47 to Mid-Willamette Conference-leading Corvallis.
“They made really hard plays that a team that is undefeated in league makes,” coach Justin Smith said, “We’re still young and trying to learn how to win those games. It was a game of runs, they just ended up making the last one.”
Cruz Vasquez led all scorers with 18 points, including a three at the end of the third quarter to give the Rebels a lead going into the fourth.
“I was driving pretty easily. I had teammates helping me out and getting me better looks and that’s what got me good shots,” Vasquez said.
Corvallis was forced to intentionally foul down the stretch to lengthen the game and the tactic ended up working. South only missed three free throws but it cost them as the Spartans desperately rallied.
Trailing by five, Corvallis’ Zack Zalesky hauled in an offensive rebound, dribbled into the corner and with a wide open look, cut the South Albany lead to one possession.
More free throws were likely to come for South but on the ensuing inbound play, Rodgers deflected the pass off of a Rebel player giving the ball back to the Spartans with less than 20 seconds remaining.
The ball came to Rodgers at the top of the key and the senior drilled a three to give Corvallis its first lead of the fourth quarter.
Instead of calling time out, the Rebels raced up the floor led by Jaden Guilford. His runner in the lane rattled off but South was able to corral the offensive rebound and call time setting up one final play for the Rebels.
The inbound went to Jake Costello who missed a floater and Dominick Crittenden missed after an offensive rebound from in tight and the Spartans escaped with a one-point victory.
South Albany carried a six-point lead into the break but it was Corvallis who came out of half time fired up. Corvallis opened the third with a 13-2 run.
“In the second half, we were falling asleep,” Vasquez said, “We needed to wake up right off the bat. They were fired up coming out but we responded a couple minutes later though.”
The Rebels would not go away though as they responded with five straight points of their own. Jake Costello hit a three from straight away to tie the game at 29 and the momentum swung back to South Albany where it appeared it would stay.
With the score tied at 32 in the third, Cruz Vasquez took an inbound pass and banked in a deep three to ignite the Rebel bench and give South Albany the lead going into the fourth.
“I guess you could say I called ‘bank.’ I’ve thrown a couple up before so I was optimistic about it,” Vasquez said.
The Spartans would get to work defensively in the fourth. After Vasquez’s three to end the quarter, the Rebels would only convert three field goals in the fourth quarter despite getting good looks.
For South Albany (9-8, 3-4 league), they will try to get back in the win column with a road trip against a struggling Central team (5-11, 1-6 league).
Corvallis (13-4, 7-0 league) travels to take on cross-town rival Crescent Valley (9-8, 3-4 league) on Tuesday.