By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
In their final home games of the year, the Azalea Middle School seventh and eighth grade basketball teams played the Coquille Valley Wildcats tough in both games but split the doubleheader Thursday night.
The seventh grade team fought tooth and nail with the Wildcats in the opening game, but fell 61-48.
In the nightcap, the eight grade Bruins used a superb second half to down Coquille 56-50.
Seventh-graders downed by Coquille
The Bruins definitely had their work cut out for them in the opener Thursday night as they tussled with a much taller Wildcat team.
Coquille started out hot and they jumped out to an 11-3 lead early in the first quarter.
But the Bruins quickly bounced back as Cade Freels drained a pair of free throws, Andrew Bilyeu hit from the baseline, Nate Orman put back an offensive rebound and Freels ended the run with a bucket inside to tie the game at 11 all before Coquille scored late in the quarter to take a 13-11 lead at the end of one.
The Bruins' offensive output slowed in the second quarter as the Wildcats stretched their lead to 27-18 by halftime.
In the third quarter, the Bruins hung tough and outscored the Wildcats 15-14 in the quarter behind 10 points from Bilyeu.
Coquille pushed the lead to as many as 21 in the fourth quarter, but the Bruins continued to fight until the final whistle.
The Bruins ended the game on an 8-0 run as Bilyeu went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line, Sean Graham turned a steal into a layup and Orman hit from inside to bring the final score to 61-48.
Bilyeu had a career game as he scored 21 points on the night and used his quickness to get the basket with ease.
Orman also hit double figures with 11 points, Freels added seven, Darrell Hopper had four, Cole Hannan chipped in three and Graham had two.
Eighth grade Bruins
rally for 56-50 win
A subpar first half was overshadowed by a stellar second half as the Bruins came back from a halftime deficit to defeat the Wildcats.
Five different Bruins scored in the opening stanza as the they trailed by just a point, 15-14, after the first quarter.
But the Bruins struggled to score in the second and managed just eight points in the quarter as Coquille held a 25-22 lead heading into halftime.
The Bruins, however, decided that they needed to play better ball in the final two quarters order to take home the win.
andquot;The great thing was that although we showed up flat, they made a choice to play hard in the second half,andquot; Coach Keith Wallin said. andquot;We played some of our best defense of the year in the second half and we eliminated our turnovers as well.andquot;
On defense, the Bruins turned the tide on Coquille and held them to just eight points in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the Bruins were able to pour on 20 points in the quarter, sparked by an 11-0 run in the latter part of the quarter to take a 42-33 lead in the fourth.
After building the lead up to 11 points, the Bruin reserves did a good job maintaining a solid defensive effort as the Bruins were able to hold on for the 56-50 victory.
Alex Pate and Chandler Gotfried led a balanced scoring attack for the Bruins with 13 points apiece.
Tim Drafahl and Tyler Wood each chipped in eight points for the Bruins while Nick Corpening and Jonathan Fertig put in seven points apiece.
The eighth grade team will participate in the 40th Annual Crescent City Jaycees Tournament this weekend.
League games for the Bruins will resume Tuesday, March 11 as the teams travel to Bandon. The seventh grade game will start at 4 p.m. followed by the eighth grade game at 5:30 p.m.