Redemption was the motivation Cottage Grove used to bring home its first girls basketball state title.
The top-ranked Lions, state runner-up a year earlier, had to hold off a late run from Sky-Em League rival Marist for a 53-51 win in the OSAA 4A championship game at Gill Coliseum.
"We had to show La Pine and we had to show Marist. We had to prove everything," Cottage Grove senior guard Reed Levings said.
It was La Pine, another league foe, that beat the Lions for the title in 2009. Cottage Grove (26-2) got past La Pine in a semifinal Friday. Next up were the second-ranked Spartans who split two regular-season games with La Pine.
Levings and Madison McClung had 12 points apiece and Daina Tague added 10 points for Cottage Grove. Nikki Demers had 15 points and Macky Dennis 13 points for Marist (19-9), of Eugene.
Cottage Grove took the lead late in the first quarter and held it until Emily Hacker's layin tied the score at 41-41 with 4:19 left. The Lions led by as many as 10 in the first half. Cottage Grove then scored five straight over the next two minutes and didn't give up the lead. Marist closed within two but got no closer. The Lions made 5 of 6 free throws in the last three minutes.
"We can't expect to get a lead and relax," Cottage Grove coach Kerry Lawson said. "In the timeout (in the closing minutes), we said we've got to try to win, we've got to go to the hoop. Marist, they got back in, but our kids hung on and they played to win."
The championship game was Marist's last - at least for now - in the 4A classification. The Spartans make the move to 5A for next school year.
"Cottage Grove got the last word on that chapter, and I couldn't be more proud of what our kids have done tonight," Lawson said.
Cottage Grove took the lead for good in the first half at 11-10 on Tague's two free throws with 41 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Lions scored eight straight second-quarter points - the last six on fast-break baskets - to go up 25-15 with about two minutes left in the first half. Cottage Grove led 25-17 at halftime.
Cottage Grove was able to hold off a strong third-quarter push by Marist, which closed within three on three different occasions.
But the Lions kept the lead, and had a 39-34 edge at the end of the quarter.
Cottage Grove's Jordan Brunetti and Levings were joined by Marist's Allie Rogers, Brooke Davison of North Bend and Kassi Conditt of La Pine on the all-tournament first team.
The teams split the two league games during the regular season with each winning at home. Cottage Grove won the first game 64-49 on Jan. 12 and Marist took the second 49-42 on Feb. 5.