CORVALLIS — South Albany High had plenty to play for.
With second place in the Mid-Willamette Conference boys basketball standings already locked up, the Rebels still needed another victory in their attempt to secure a top-eight seed for the 5A state playoffs. South used a big second half to get that result Friday night, outscoring host Corvallis 52-23 after the break to run away for a 77-56 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“I was real proud of our kids for the way they responded in the second half,” Rebels coach Justin Smith said. “We talked about that if you’re going to be a championship-level basketball team, then you better be able to respond when people give you their best shot. And we did that in the second half.”
The Rebels (19-5, 12-2), who have already clinched a state play-in round bye, moved up to seventh in the OSAA power rankings. The top eight receive home games for next week’s state round of 16.
The power rankings will freeze at 10 p.m. Saturday.
A season ago, South received the No. 8 seed and wound up advancing to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
Rebels senior Jake Costello led all players with 26 points. Costello had 17 after the break as South turned an eight-point halftime deficit into a rout.
“My teammates did a great job looking for me,” said Costello, a first-team all-MWC pick last year. “We felt like we could take advantage of a couple things, and they did a great job finding me.”
Jaden Guilford added 14 points for South while Kyle Miller recorded 10. Ten Rebels scored in the victory.
South needed about 90 seconds to overcome an eight-point halftime deficit, going up 34-33 on a Costello elbow 3-pointer. Buckets from Miller and Costello pushed it to 38-33 to cap a 13-0 run.
Costello had 15 points in the period as South took a 50-44 lead into the fourth.
A nifty Miller layin gave South its first double-digit advantage of the evening at 54-44. Seth Cullison then knocked down a dagger 3 that essentially put it away at 59-45.
“It was up to what we’re capable of doing,” Smith said of the second-half performance. “We didn’t play real well in the first, and a lot of that was them doing a really good job. They beat us to loose balls, they were getting offensive rebounds, they just took us out of what we wanted to do. It was more on Corvallis playing really well than it was on us playing poorly.”
Added Costello: “I think it was senior night and they came out and played for their seniors. That’s a solid basketball team and we just had to wake up.”
Following an Ivan Rodriguez 3, CHS put together an 8-0 run to grab an 8-3 lead early in the opening quarter. Dyshawn Hobson then found Maxwell Johnson for an open corner 3 that made it 15-7.
The Spartans (9-15, 5-9), who dropped their first meeting with South 67-50 in Albany, led 15-9 after one and went up 20-11 on a Roman Gabriel triple. The Rebels stormed right back with seven straight points, getting within two on a Guilford drive and finish.
Costello’s first made shot from beyond the arc tied it at 23, but a Noah Greenblatt’s buzzer-beating 3 gave CHS a 33-25 lead at halftime.
“We talked about in the locker room playing up to our potential,” Costello said. “We came out and just tried to do what we do, and I think that was important to take control of the game and settle everybody back down.”
Sophomore Isaac Gabriel paced the Spartans with 11 points.