FOREST GROVE — It’s finals week at Seaside High School.
But outside the classroom, the Seaside Gulls have a different kind of “final” in mind, and they’re prepped and ready for this one.
The Seaside boys basketball team is one win closer to a state championship, following a 46-43 win over Gladstone Thursday afternoon, in a quarterfinal of the Class 4A OSAA state tournament.
The victory at Pacific University puts the Gulls into the Final Four for the second year in a row, where Seaside will face a familiar test: the North Bend Bulldogs.
Jackson Januik scored 11 points and Payton Westerholm had three steals with seven points, which included one big offensive rebound and a free throw with 13 seconds left, giving the Gulls a three-point lead.
But, no time to celebrate or enjoy this one. It’s on to the semifinals and the Bulldogs, who will play Seaside at 3:15 p.m. today at Forest Grove High School, right after the Seaside girls take on Sutherlin in a girls’ semifinal.
It’s a pretty big rematch — and one that definitely favors the Seaside boys. The Gulls knocked off North Bend at their place in the preseason, 82-62.
Seaside won Thursday’s game with its lowest point total of the season.
The Gulls had 3-pointers from Jackson Januik and Attikin Babb near the end of the first half, and even those two shots had Seaside in front by a low-scoring 23-15 at halftime.
“We did just enough to get by,” said Seaside coach Bill Westerholm. “We didn’t do a very good job of moving the ball in the first half. We tried to play a lot of one-on-one stuff, and that doesn’t always work at the state tournament.”
Both teams also got into foul trouble. Januik and Hunter Thompson each finished with four.
“(The Gladiators) got into a little more trouble than we did,” Westerholm said. “But we didn’t shoot the ball very well the whole night (13-for-39). Attikin Babb had a good game, and we hit just enough free throws down the stretch (5-of-11 in the final 1:15). But they’re a good team, too. Every game here is going to be a dogfight.”
Seaside was 16-of-27 at the free-throw line, to Gladstone’s 1-of-6.
A 3-pointer by Thompson early in the fourth quarter gave Seaside a 35-26 lead, but Gladstone fought back, eventually closing to within 45-43 on a 3-pointer by Briggs Tatom with 21 seconds left.
Payton Westerholm was fouled twice in the final 15 seconds, and was 1-of-4 at the line.
On his second miss, however, he grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled again.
“That was big,” said coach and dad Westerholm. “To miss two free throws and get away with an offensive rebound. The kid has a knack for getting his hand on the ball. He was more upset at himself for missing the free throws.”
Payton said, “I wish I would have made a couple more. I was definitely nervous coming in, but hopefully that passes.
“We were up the whole game, and just kind of kept it there,” he said.
“We feel good. We feel like if we can play our game, we can win the next one, too.”