In the first half you could’ve been forgiven for thinking Dayton was head and shoulders above Creswell, that the talent gap was sizable and that their cohesion and poise put them not only in a different tier than Creswell, but a different classification altogether. The second half, however, shows the disconnect between Dayton and the rest of their tier-one peers: there continues to be no A-level star, and it shows offensively both in good and bad ways.
Dayton rolled early on both ends of the floor, pressuring Creswell and keeping them uncomfortable, moving the ball quickly offensively and creating easy opportunities for points. Even where the bulldogs had success in stifling the Dayton’s offensive rhythm, Lucas Ashley and Michael Freeborn continuously made do anyway. But in the second half, when Creswell found their footing and stopped the bleeding, even going on runs of their own, there wasn’t an immediate answer. There was, and in the foreseeable future will not be, a rhythm fixing, momentum changing player like Cascade Christian and Westside have multiple of. The handicap of Dayton, in a sick twist of irony, is their strength: their balance.
Probability is not prediction. The probability that Dayton can beat the likes of Cascade Christian and Westside is certainly prominent, as evidenced by their already having taken down the Challengers earlier this season, but you wouldn’t predict it. As the runway to Coos Bay shortens, it’s reasonable to wonder if their two counterparts in the contenders column, Cascade Christian and Westside, have to lose the state title before Dayton can win it.
Leading Scorers: Michael Freeborn (Dayton) 15, Max Velarde (Cres.) 14, Connor Hanson (Cres.) 13, Boston Hodges (Dayton) 12