SEASIDE - Both teams walked off the floor with a certain amount of pride following Friday night's girls basketball game at Seaside.
After years of "close, but not quite," the Seaside Gulls finally got their long-awaited Cowapa League championship - their first since 2000 - following a 46-39 win over Astoria.
Meanwhile, a big-time rally was "close, but not quite" for the Lady Fishermen, who can still take pride in a well-earned state playoff spot.
Astoria drops into a tie for second with Yamhill-Carlton at 7-3. The two teams will play a tie-breaker for the No. 2 seed at 6 p.m. Saturday at Tillamook.
After being honored on Senior Night in front of the Gulls' home crowd Friday, Seaside's Ashley Mayfield went out and scored 23 points - including a game-clinching 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter.
For Mayfield and fellow seniors Becca Lent, Megan Potter and Alix Richardson, the league title was a long time coming. In fact, Friday's victory will rank right up there among Mayfield's favorites.
"This is probably No. 1," she said. "It was a great game, and we were looking forward to it all week. A lot of people thought losing Marla (Olstedt) would be a really big deficit for us this year, but we've proven that we can do really well without her, even though we'd still love to have her. We can still succeed."
The Gulls were hoping to make it a little less dramatic, as they charged out of the gate with a 16-3 lead, highlighted by scores off the bench from Anna Toyas and a 3-pointer by Riley Tadei.
Seaside's pressure defense caused 16 Astoria turnovers, while the Fishermen were just 2-of-21 from the field in the first half and trailed 21-6 at halftime.
Mayfield drilled a 3-pointer early in the second half, and the lead reached 26-9.
Not ready to give up their shot at the league title that easily, the Fishermen rallied, as a short jumper by Jordan Thoreson, a pair of baskets by Marilyn Brooks and a 3-pointer by Bug Coggins had Astoria within 34-26 late in the third period.
And the comeback didn't stop there.
Early in the fourth, Kayce Lilley and Thoreson both hit shots from the outside, Mariah Rudolfi scored off an offensive rebound, and two free throws from Thoreson cut Seaside's lead to 38-36 with 4:05 left.
That's as close as Astoria would get, however.
Just over 20 seconds later, Mayfield pulled up to the 3-point line, and launched a shot that drew nothing but net. She was fouled on the shot.
Mayfield missed the free throw, but the Gulls had regained the momentum.
It was a free throw shooting contest from there, with the Gulls hitting 5-of-7 in the final 57 seconds.
"We always come out strong, but then sometimes we start thinking 'that's good enough,'" Mayfield said. "We have to work on coming out in the second half and really pick it up."
Astoria was a much-improved 10-of-21 in the second half, with just seven turnovers.
"(The Fishermen) hit their shots, and we didn't want them to go to the free throw line," said Seaside coach Mike Jacobson. "We talked about that at halftime. But we did. I don't know what they were in the second half (12-for-20), but it seemed like they were getting to the line every time.
"And we got a little lazy on defense," he added. "Our press and traps weren't working, they were breaking it pretty easy, and our girls let up a little. I don't know if we panicked, but you could see that we lost our confidence. The big turning point was when Ashley hit that three. That just boosted our energy level back up."
The shot "definitely" pumped up Mayfield. "The whole crowd and our bench ... we were just going wild," she said. "There was a little panic when they came back, but I have faith in the girls because we've worked really hard to get to this point. Especially us four seniors."
Jacobson said, "Sarah (LaCoste) had a heck of a game. She played really well defensively and did a lot of good things tonight. Alix (Richardson) played well. Everybody who got in the game did a nice job."
Brooks led the Fishermen with 12 points, followed by Lilley with 10. Tadei and Cali Riser combined for 12 points off the bench for the Gulls.
"I'm extremely proud of the way our girls battled back," said Astoria coach Jeff Leo. "They didn't just roll over and lose by 30 like the last time we played.
"It just took a lot to battle back from that kind of deficit in that type of environment," he said. "And hats off to Seaside. Ashley Mayfield just took over. She came down and hit the three, and basically put the whole team on her back and won the game. I know who I'm voting for league MVP on Monday."
The Gulls can now turn their attention to the state playoffs, where they will host a game March 7 against an opponent still to be determined.
"The girls are ready," Jacobson said. "We've played really well at home, and that's why you have to go for the higher seed, to get the home game. I like our chances for getting back to the quarterfinals."
Rainier 37, Warrenton 31FOREST GROVE - The Warrenton Lady Warriors beat Rainier twice during the regular season this year. But with all types of league playoffs and seeding games, the regular season in the Lewis & Clark League doesn't mean much nowadays.
The Columbians took advantage of that fact Saturday night at Pacific University in Forest Grove, as they rose up to defeat the Warriors for the first time in three games, 37-31, in the seeding game for No. 1 and No. 2 out of the L&C.
As a result, Rainier will be the league's top seed to the state playoffs and will host an easy first-round contest, while the Warriors will hit the road and play at Harrisburg Saturday, time to be announced.
Saturday's loss not only forced a road game for Warrenton, it snapped a 20-game win streak for the Warriors, who had not lost since Dec. 13, at Harrisburg of all places.
Rainier led 11-8 after one quarter in Saturday's playoff, and maintained a narrow advantage through three quarters, leading 27-25 going into the fourth.
But a few turnovers and a poor night from the field prevented the Warriors from catching the Columbians. Warrenton finished the night 23 percent from the field after shooting 47 percent and 46 percent in its two previous wins over Rainier.
The Columbians held Lauren Dove and Jordane Marxer to a combined 2-for-14.
Brooklyn Campbell scored 16 points to lead the Warriors, while Mollee Schwegler had 16 (including nine points at the free throw line) for Rainier, which will host Creswell (No. 4 seed out of the Pac West) Saturday.
Nestucca 63, Knappa 31SCAPPOOSE - The Knappa Lady Loggers finished one game shy of the state playoffs Saturday night, as Nestucca defeated the Loggers for the third time this season, 63-31, to gain the NWL's third and final seed to the state playoffs.
Nestucca's Kelsea Hurliman scored all 28 of her points in the first three quarters, as she helped the 'Cats build a 52-24 lead going into the final period.
Sophomore Rachel Tadei scored 11 points to lead the Loggers, who finish 4-17 overall.
Toledo 82, Ilwaco 47KELSO, Wash. - Toledo's Tiffany Tornow knocked down eight 3-pointers Saturday night to lead the Indians to an 82-47 win over Ilwaco in a Southwest Washington 1A District semifinal game.
Ilwaco advances to play La Center in a loser-out, winner-to-state game Thursday in Kelso.
In the third quarter of Saturday's game, Tornow knocked down 5-of-9 3-pointers, then added another in the final period to help the Indians pull away.
Tornow scored a game-high 27 points, with six assists, five rebounds and four steals. Carley Kitzman poured in 16 points with 11 boards for the Fishermen, who were 13-of-27 at the free throw line.