CORVALLIS — Simply reaching the Class 5A boys basketball state tournament was “icing on the cake” for Mountain View, according to Cougars coach Brian Broaddus.
Yet that did not take away from the pain the Cougs felt Wednesday night at Gill Coliseum.
Despite 23 points, five rebounds and two blocks by Matt Van Tassell, No. 6-seeded Mountain View shot just 38.2 percent from the floor while No. 3 Thurston shot 55.8 percent en route to a 70-58 quarterfinal win.
The Colts from Springfield, in the state tournament for the first time since 2008, will play No. 2 Crater in a semifinal game at 8:15 p.m. Thursday. Mountain View, meanwhile, moves into the consolation bracket and will play at 10:45 a.m. Thursday against No. 7 South Albany.
“I told them it should hurt,” Broaddus said. “It’s disappointing we let one get away that we could have won.”
The Cougars’ shooting struggles came primarily in the paint, where Thurston outscored Mountain View 36-22. Mountain View, Broaddus noted, had its share of clear looks close to the rim but could not convert. The Cougs missed 20 shots from within a few feet, while the Colts missed only eight.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” Van Tassell said of his team’s shooting woes. “We think those are the things we can control, and we practice those all the time. It is frustrating when that happens, but we try to have the mentality of ‘next play.’ You missed that shot? Move on and get the next one. You just have to try to move forward.”
In Mountain View’s ninth state tournament in 14 years, the Cougars (19-6 overall) got off to a hot start by making 5 of 8 shots to take a 15-10 lead midway through the first quarter. Thurston, however, was in a rhythm as well, as the Colts were 6-for-8 shooting to grab a 16-15 lead before Van Tassell drilled a 3-pointer late in the opening period to give the Intermountain Conference champions an 18-16 edge heading into the second quarter.
Thurston (20-6) opened the period with a 7-0 spurt, capped by an offensive rebound and layup by Isaac Lange, to go up 23-18 and allow the Colts, who defeated Mountain View 75-68 at Thurston in mid-December, to go into the half ahead 29-27. Another Colts run, an 11-2 surge to begin the third quarter, pushed their lead to 40-29. And while Mountain View trimmed the gap to four points on a 3-pointer by Van Tassell, who scored eight points in the quarter, Lange converted a 3-point play to earn Thurston a 49-42 lead after three periods.
From there the Colts, the No. 3 team from the Midwestern Conference, held off Mountain View. A breakaway dunk by Lange upped the Thurston lead to 60-49 late in the game and helped the Colts advance to Thursday’s semifinals.
Van Tassell scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half for Mountain View. Chase McClain added 14 points, four boards and three assists, and Grant Jordan supplied 12 points and three assists.
“It is rough,” Van Tassell said. “We had high hopes coming in. But we want to make the most of it and go into the next game and play our hardest and as a team. Hopefully, we’ll get one more game and come home with a trophy.” (Trophies are awarded to the tournament’s top six teams.)
Lange finished with 29 points for the Colts, including 18 in the second half. Thurston’s length, with four players standing 6 feet 5 inches or taller compared with two for Mountain View, also proved key as the Colts totaled six blocks. Mason Miller had four rejections for Thurston to go with eight points, seven assists and six rebounds.
“They’re an older team, a more experienced team and athletic,” Broaddus said of the Colts, who he said “outphysicalled” the Cougars. “We’ll hang on to it until (game time Thursday morning) and get back after it tomorrow and use this hurt as motivation.”