It was a championship atmosphere Friday night at South Albany High.
With the Mid-Willamette Conference boys basketball title essentially on the line, the fifth-ranked Rebels weren’t quite up for the moment in their rematch with No. 2 Silverton. A disastrous first 10 minutes wound up being too much to overcome.
The poised Foxes canned seven first-half 3-points in front of a raucous crowd, building a commanding 25-point lead before South could pull it together. The Rebels made a furious charge after the break, but it wasn’t enough as Silverton ran away for an 82-57 victory.
“Our shots weren’t falling, and then on the defensive end we were just allowing too many wide-open 3s,” South senior point guard Jaden Guilford said of the rough start. “That hurt us. I think a little bit of it was nerves, too.
“We have to figure it out, because playoffs are coming up soon. We’ve got to get it together.”
The win clinches the MWC’s No. 1 seed for Silverton (20-1, 12-0), which hasn’t lost to a team from Oregon this season. The Foxes defeated the Rebels 69-42 earlier this year.
South (17-5, 10-2) has already secured second place in the MWC and a 5A state play-in round bye.
Silverton led 21-4 after the first quarter and 32-7 early in the second. The Rebels missed their first several field goal attempts while the visitors knocked down shot after shot.
The Foxes finished with 11 triples after making 12 in the first meeting.
“That’s a very good basketball team,” South coach Justin Smith said. “We showed glimpses that we can play with a team like that, but then we also showed glimpses of where we need to become better prepared for the moment. Hostile crowd, a bunch of people here, a lot of good things come from it, but we need to continue working to get up for these situations.”
Sophomore guard David Gonzales had a game-high 25 points for the Foxes. Grant Dunn came off the bench to score 18, including four 3s, and Cade Roth chipped in 17.
Guilford had 18 points to lead the Rebels, who close the regular season next week with road games at Dallas and Corvallis.
Trailing 39-19 at halftime, South opened the third quarter on a 12-0 run to trim the deficit to eight. Silverton answered with a 10-0 spurt of its own and led 59-47 heading to the fourth.
Eli Nafziger came off the bench to score nine of his 10 points in the third as the Rebels hung around. Jake Costello had 11 of his 13 in the period.
“Answering our scored baskets with a stop on the defensive end, that’s what it really came down to,” Guilford said. “If we would’ve continued that all game, it would’ve been a different story.”
A Roth four-point play with 7:02 remaining made it 63-47. The Rebels got no closer than 13 the rest of the way.
Silverton opened the game on a 14-0 run as Gonzales and Roth both connected from long range. The Foxes drained five first-quarter 3s to build a 21-4 advantage.
The lead swelled to 25 before Guilford knocked in a pair from distance to help South’s offense get going. The Rebels trailed 39-19 at the break.
“They are the best basketball team in the state right now,” Smith said of Silverton. “They haven’t really competed against anybody in Oregon where it’s been real close, and I think we can (compete). I think we have that capability, but it has to be a situation where four quarters, we show that. And we only showed that for about a quarter and a half tonight.”
Gonzales paced the Foxes with 19 first-half points, including three triples. Guilford had 12 points for South and made three of the team’s four field goals.