COOS BAY — Cinderella arrived at the big dance as elegant as expected Saturday night, but only made it as far as the front door.
It was Knight time, after all.
De La Salle North Catholic took some serious blows from a game Amity team for three quarters of a tense game for the OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union 3A championship, but finished the Warriors with a determined fourth quarter for a 58-45 victory.
It was the second straight championship for the Knights (25-4) in their fourth consecutive visit to the championship game. And it was all planned out in the same locker room in the same Marshfield High School gymnasium about a year ago at this time.
“We said after the last one that we wanted to do it again,” said Kadeem Nelson, whose 16 points and hot (six critical points) fourth quarter helped blow the game open at the end. “We decided that we didn’t have to settle for second best this year, either. We wanted to do this for coach (James Broadous II).
“We love him so much.”
But the top-seeded Knights were up against an Amity team that seemed to have magic wands in their shooting hands. The 10th-seeded Warriors got to the championship game by beating, in order, Horizon Christian, No. 2 seed Santiam Christian and No. 3 seed Dayton.
About halfway through that march, basketball observers were speculating that the seeding committee just might have underrated the Warriors.
They were absolutely right about the Knights, though. The North Portland school has speed, hops, depth, basketball smarts and coaching — everything that adds up to the word “formidable.”
De La Salle jumped all over the Warriors at the very beginning of the game, sprinting out to quick five-point lead. Except for a 13-second space in the third quarter, they never trailed again.
Nelson confessed that going into the game, the team thought the Knights would dominate.
“We thought this would be over by halftime,” he said. “but they hung in there way longer than we expected.”
Amity had much of its success going inside to 6-foot-6 sophomore post Josh Wart, who posted up against whoever was guarding him, worked the baseline and ran the court on his way to a 16-point, 14-rebound evening.
But the Knights bottled up everybody else with their combination defenses. Only one other Warrior — Friday hero Michael Duncan — hit double figures.
They did it by harassing the Warriors from midcourt in.
“We wanted to make it as hard for them to start their offense as we could,” Broadous said. “We wanted to know that whatever they got, they were going to have to work hard for.”
The Knights, in the meantime, got some clutch scoring not from one of their primary sources — Nelson and George Sadi — but from smallish (5-10) swing man Anthony Mosley.
The Warriors were within three at the halftime break, then rushed out on an 8-4 burst to start the third quarter. Duncan’s three-pointer with 6:07 left in the period gave Amity its only lead at 28-27.
Nelson got that back with a layup 13-seconds later, then Mosley stepped in. He closed out the third period with a pair of shots in the key, then opened the final period with two critical scores.
Critical? Amity was within one early in the fourth quarter when Mosley struck twice on shots in the key. They started an eight-point run that put the Warriors in a 48-39 straitjacket they couldn’t escape.
“Anthony stepped up and scored when nobody else was scoring,” Broadous said. “He had a mind to do that to help us out. He carried us.”
For one of the few times this season, the Warriors (19-9) couldn’t come up with a solution. For all their feist, the Warriors just couldn’t make it up.
A Nelson layup ran the Knights’ lead up to 11 points with 2:52 left in the game, and it was all over but the cutting of the net.
“We knew we were playing a good team,” Broadous said of the Warriors, “We knew we’d have to play 32 minutes of basketball to beat them. We played them earlier in the year and beat them (83-56), but this is different. They played one of the great stretches to get here, and you can’t ignore that.”
In the end, the Knights didn’t. The carriage turned back into a pumpkin and Cinderella went home.
But not without one last observation about the game.
“Even in the end, I thought we matched up pretty well with them,” said West Streeter, Amity’s pugnacious little (5-7) point guard. “We made some mistakes in the fourth quarter that cost us, but I think if we played them again the outcome might be different.
“A lot of teams counted us out a little early.”
Mosley led the Knights with 18. Nelson added 16 and Sadi 15. Duncan had 10 for the Warriors.