The Valley Catholic boys basketball team wasn't going to let this one go.
But Seagull senior guard Jackson Januik wasn't going to let Seaside lose. Januik, listed at 5-foot-9 but likely closer to 5-6, enforced his will on Saturday's game like no one else, pouring in 29 points, grabbing six rebounds and handing out six assists to lift the Seagulls to a 71-63 win at Forest Grove High School that gave Seaside the first boys basketball championship in school history.
"We turned him over some, but he makes other guys better and he made some big shots, too," Valley Catholic coach Joel Sobotka said, referring to Januik's 11 turnovers. "He took over. He's a competitor — he really is. He's a good player."
"I give a lot of credit to Seaside. They're a really good team," said Valley Catholic junior wing Joey Braun, who led his team with 16 points. "And (Januik), he's a really good player."
For Seaside, the win capped a stellar 2016-17 season that included a Cowapa League co-championship (shared with Valley Catholic), a No. 1 ranking and a final 24-1 season record — its only loss coming to Valley Catholic back on Feb. 10.
The Valiants, meanwhile, left Saturday's game proud of their own accomplishments — a Cowapa co-championship, that win over Seaside, a No. 3 ranking, a second-place trophy and a final 20-6 record.
"As a senior, (during) the game I realized this was my last game," said Valley Catholic senior Colin Haggerty, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. "I had to leave it all on the floor and I think we did that as a team. We came together and said, 'Hey. If we lose, we're going to go down swinging,' so we gave it everything we had for the last few minutes."
"We kept fighting until the last buzzer," added senior wing Daniel Hardy, who added six points, a team-high eight rebounds and four steals. "That's a legacy that the previous guys left behind and it's a tradition we plan on continuing."
The two teams fought tooth and nail through Saturday's first half, with neither leading by more than three points in the first quarter — that at 10-7 on a Braun three-pointer with 2 minutes, 21 seconds left in the period — and Valley Catholic rallying back within 27-25 at the half after falling behind by nine points in the second frame.
In that second period, Seaside took off on a 13-6 run over the stanza's first 3:29, getting a Jackson Januik three-pointer 12 seconds into the quarter, a pair of free throws by Chase Januik, a putback by Duncan Thompson, and two more Jackson Januik "threes," the second of those pushing the Gulls' lead to 27-18 with 3:31 remaining in the half.
The Valiants, however, responded immediately, closing the half on a 7-0 run over the final 3:19 of the second period and moving within 27-25 at the break. Senior Aidan Welsh carried the load there, converting a layin, hitting a jumpshot (assisted by Ben Robbins) and a free throw, then seeing Robbins hit a jumpshot of his own to cut the deficit to just two with 36 seconds remaining before the half.
Valley Catholic's momentum did not carry over to the third quarter, however.
The Seagulls hit the ground running at the start of the third and put together the most dominant stretch of the game by either team, rattling off a 14-4 run that extended their lead to 41-29 when Payton Westerholm set up Thompson for an inside basket that he turned into a three-point play with 3:09 remaining in the quarter.
As they had at the end of the second quarter, though, the Valiants answered again at the end of the third, using a 7-2 stretch to close within 43-36 entering the fourth. Vlad Katin started things there when he rebounded a Braun miss and scored, then scored again off an assist by Andrew Plambeck before Hardy made a steal and hammered home a right-handed dunk, and Haggerty tacked on a free throw with eight seconds on the clock.
There was trouble ahead in the fourth for the Valiants, though.
The Seagulls pushed their advantage to 15 points — at 65-50 on a pair of free throws by Thompson with just 1:30 remaining on the clock — with a 22-14 run that appeared to put their title on ice.
The Valiants had other ideas, though. They put together a 12-3 run that took just one minute off the clock and moved them back within 68-62, the last basket in that stretch coming when Haggerty made a steal and set up Braun for a "three" with 24 seconds left to play.
But Valley ran out of time from there. Jackson Januik hit a pair of free throws with 21 seconds remaining, the Valiants missed twice from the field and didn't score again until Jack Grasberger hit a free throw with three seconds left.
"It just came down to who was willing to put their bodies on the floor, who was willing to push it to the limit and we both did that," Haggerty said. "We both pushed it to the limit. Unfortunately, the score didn't turn out the way we wanted it."
"I'm definitely proud of what we did this year," Braun said. "We had a tremendous year … and I'm proud because everyone put their heart in it. We just came up short tonight. We can't change it, but I'm proud of us."
"We made a huge statement about what our team is about," Hardy added. "As long as our school stands, that's how we are going to play. We're going to fight 'til the end."
For the game, the Valiants shot just 37 percent from the field while the Seagulls knocked down 47 percent of theirs, including an 8 of 18 performance from three-point land (including Jackson Januik's 4 of 7). Januik hit 6 of 11 shots from the field and 13 of 17 foul shots, while Chase Januik added 14 points and Thompson 10.
For VC, Plambeck handed out six assists and Welsh tacked on nine points.