The individual and school records are too numerous to count for South Albany High’s seven seniors.
The most accomplished class in program history broke new ground on Friday, exiting Gill Coliseum with the school’s first boys basketball state trophy.
South fell to Mid-Willamette Conference rival Silverton, 61-50, to wrap up play at the OSAA 5A state tournament. The seventh-seeded Rebels (21-7) finished sixth at the eight-team event while No. 1 Silverton (25-2) placed fourth.
“This is going to be the most successful group to ever walk through the halls of South Albany when it comes to basketball,” third-year Rebels coach Justin Smith said. “They were such a terrific group to coach that coming to practice every day wasn’t a chore, it was enjoyable. They are great kids and I know they will have great lives going forward.”
A season ago, South won a school-record 19 games and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history. The Rebels went two-and-out at Gill Coliseum.
South exceeded the 2016-17 team’s win total by two this winter en route to its best state finish. Seniors Jake Costello, Jaden Guilford, Ivan Rodriguez, Seth Cullison, Preston Mayer, Isaac Southwick and Collin McCoy led the way.
Costello and Guilford are the Rebels’ all-time leading scorers.
“This group has broken records and done firsts all of the last two years,” Smith said. “The thing that’s nice, and I was telling this to the kids, is that it’s no longer going to be the second time in school history or the third time in history… this is where we’re supposed to be now because we plan on competing for championships every year.”
Costello paced the Rebels with 15 points while Guilford and junior post Kyle Miller added 11 apiece. Cullison finished with seven points, 11 rebounds and three steals.
Cade Roth had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Foxes, who swept the regular-season series with the Rebels in convincing fashion. Silverton ran the table in MWC play but was stunned by eighth-seeded Churchill, 53-51, in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
It was the Foxes’ first loss to a team from Oregon this season.
“Three weeks ago if you would’ve told us we’d be playing Silverton on the last day of the season, we’d have been pretty happy because we’d probably be playing for a championship,” Smith said. “But that’s just the way it worked out.”
Silverton made 12 3-pointers in each of the first two meetings, including a 12-for-22 (55 percent) performance in Albany. The Foxes were 9 of 25 from beyond the arc on Wednesday.
The Rebels, who fell behind by double-digits in the second quarter, got within seven at 57-50 on a Miller putback with 1:25 remaining. South was unable to convert on its final possessions while the Foxes tacked on four more points.
The MWC runners-up shot just 33 percent from the floor (18 of 54) and made 4 of 17 3-point attempts.
“We played better than we did the first couple of times against them, but the big thing for us in these three games (at Gill Coliseum) is we just didn’t shoot the ball real well,” Smith said. “And to win at the highest level, you have to shoot the ball well.”
Leading by nine at halftime, Silverton opened the third quarter with seven straight points to seize control at 34-18.
An Eli Nafziger drive and finish cut the deficit to 13 before Guilford knocked down a pair from the line to make it 41-30. The Rebels trailed 45-32 after three quarters of play.
Five straight Costello points pulled South within 10 at 49-39, but the Foxes held up against a ferocious full-court press in the final minutes.
Silverton made four early 3s en route to a 16-8 first-quarter lead. But South weathered the storm, closing the period on a 6-0 run to trim the deficit to two.
Roth’s third triple of the game made it 22-16, and Roth then found Easton Ashwell for an open 3 that put the Foxes up nine. Silverton led 27-18 at the break.
South was just 7 of 27 (26 percent) from the field in the opening half. The Foxes weren’t much better, shooting 10 of 29 overall while making 7 of 20 from beyond the arc.
Both teams were playing their third game in as many days.
“I’m sure they are tired some, but the senior group has the rest of their lives to rest,” Smith said. “They gave everything they had and that’s all we can ask.”