The Willamina boys basketball team scored a stunner Tuesday night at Warrenton where the Bulldogs rallied from a six-point deficit to start the fourth quarter to beat the Warriors, 41-39.

Ruben Rizzo’s mid-range jump shot from the right side with 1.2 seconds left was the game-winner, helping Willamina break a tie with Warrenton in the Coastal Range League standings.

The Bulldogs improved to 3-1, while the Warriors drop to 2-2.

The first half belonged — mostly — to the Warriors.

Willamina connected on a 3-pointer in the opening seconds and built an early 7-3 lead, but the Bulldogs spent the next five minutes missing NBA-range 3-pointers, while the Warriors ran a patient offense and began scoring on easy baskets inside.

In addition, Warrenton’s Austin Little got hot from the outside, and the Warriors turned a 7-3 deficit into an 18-7 lead.

With the help of three 3-pointers, Little scored 16 points in the first half, and that was plenty to give the Warriors a seemingly safe 21-9 lead at one point.

But Willamina managed to hang around, as the Bulldogs closed to within 25-17 at halftime, then opened the third quarter on a 6-2 run.

Austin Little and Dawson Little answered with fast-break baskets to give the Warriors a 31-23 advantage late in the third.

Back came Willamina, with Austin Ash hitting a pair of 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter, and the Bulldogs forced ties at 31-31 and 33-33, before a jumper by Kaleb Floyd gave Willamina a 35-33 lead with 3:30 left.

The teams played through ties at 35 and 37, before a Willamina score gave the ‘Dogs a 39-37 lead with 1:18 remaining.

Warrenton’s Devin Jackson scored on a clutch drive to the hoop and tied it at 39s at the 1:00 mark.

Playing for the last shot, the Bulldogs ran time off the clock and played through two Warrenton fouls, before Rizzo hit the go-ahead basket with 1.2 seconds left.

A desperation shot from half-court by Jackson at the buzzer managed to hit the rim, but the Bulldogs left the floor with the victory.

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or

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