LINCOLN CITY — The shots seemed to refuse to fall Saturday afternoon for Taft High School girls basketball team in their final 3A-3 Coastal Range League tune-up, a home date against a Creswell team that was far better than its .500 record. And though the 10th-rankled Tigers hardly played their best basketball of the season, they managed to gut out a 49-46 overtime win.

With 46 seconds remaining in regulation, Creswell senior forward Emma Maness sank a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 38-35 lead, their first since their opening possession of the afternoon. But after a timeout, Taft sophomore guard/wing Brooklyn Mangold buried a trey of her own with 30 seconds left that sent it to overtime.

And with the score tied 44-44 in the extra period after Bulldogs senior Emme Whitson sank both halves of a one-and-one opportunity in the final minute, Tigers senior post/forward Chloe Peterson drained a 3-pointer with under 20 seconds left. Taft forced a turnover on Creswell’s next possession, and a layup on the other end by freshman Sienna Lillebo with 12 seconds on the clock sealed the deal.

The victory, the Tigers’ sixth straight following the cancellation of a scheduled game last Thursday at Pleasant Hill, came in exactly the fashion Taft head coach Jake Tolan hoped would benefit his team when it was scheduled to open league play Tuesday at home against Rainier, which came to Lincoln City at 5-3 overall.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to get this game in or not, but I’m sure glad we did because we definitely needed an opponent like this going into league (games),” Tolan said after Taft boosted its mark to 11-3. “Shots didn’t go in, and in the first half I think the girls were playing a little bit panicky at times, and we kind of lost our composure.”

Mangold scored a team-best 18 points and shouldered the brunt of the load for the Taft offense while the Bulldogs appeared to focus their man-to-man defensive effort on stopping Tiger senior guard/wing Lily Hatton, whose only scoring came via a 3-pointer with 2:20 to play in the first quarter.

Peterson, feisty as always in the paint, added 10 points, none bigger than her overtime trey, and Lillebo contributed nine points.

“When you play a good team like Creswell, it just boils down to making big shots in key moments,” Tolan said. “I think moving forward that this game is going to be more beneficial to our season in the long run than if we came in here, made a bunch of shots and we beat them by 15.

“Situationally, getting the chance to run some plays at the end, and going into overtime … those are going to be huge situations for us to draw on later in the season.”

Tolan added that during the course of a season, any team is going to have an off night, but battling through adversity to earn the win is the sign of a successful program.

“It’s high school girls basketball, and it’s not going to be perfect,” he said. “You’re going to have some good quarters, some moments that are great and some you’d like to have back. But when that happens, and we can finish and we can execute in the end, that makes me real proud of the girls.”

Jan. 8

Creswell          7          9          7          15        8          —        46

Taft                 10        10        8          8          11        —        49

CRESWELL — Dakota Carson 3 1-2 7, Lauren Bailey 0 0-0 0, Kendyl Whitson 1 1-1 4, Karinna Leonard 1 0-0 2, Gabby Halgren 0 0-0 0, Emme Whitson 0 7-8 7, Emma Maness 6 0-2 16, Samairah Quinones 3 1-2 7, Kaitlyn Machado 1 2-2 4. Totals: 15 12-17 46.

TAFT — Chloe Peterson 4 1-2 10, Lily Hatton 1 0-1 3, Sienna Lillebo 4 1-6 9, Aliviah Mode 1 1-2 3, Brooklyn Mangold 5 7-10 18, Alicenn Tolan 1 0-0 2, Nat Gates 1 0-0 2, Hailey Weaver 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 10-21 49.

3-point goals — Creswell 5 (Maness 4, K. Whitson), Taft 4 (Mangold 2, Hatton, Peterson). Total fouls — Creswell 17, Taft 15. Fouled out — none.

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