By JOHN GUNTHER/for OSAAtoday
COOS BAY — Cascade Christian’s boys basketball team lost early in the season to Dayton, their only loss to a fellow 3A school this season.
When it mattered most, in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 3A tournament Thursday, the Challengers beat the Pirates 65-48 to advance to Friday’s semifinals against De La Salle North Catholic and keep alive their hopes of a repeat state title.
“We lost to them early in the year; we didn’t want to do it again,” said Cascade Christian’s Drew Hall, who led all scorers with 25 points.
The Challengers showed how much they have grown, he said.
In the first meeting, Dayton owned the boards. On Thursday, Cascade Christian had a 21-14 advantage in rebounds.
The first time, when Dayton made a run, Cascade Christian didn’t respond. This time, the Challengers were in front the entire way and quickly stopped any momentum bursts.
“We were in the driver’s seat the entire game,” Hall said. “We executed. When we felt the pressure, we responded.
“Knowing we got better, we weren’t the same team as before, it’s a great feeling. It builds confidence.”
Dayton faces Creswell in the consolation round at North Bend High School on Friday.
The Pirates kept the game interesting through the first half but ultimately suffered just their second loss of the season.
Cascade Christian had its biggest first-half lead at 28-15 but Dayton got back-to-back 3-pointers by Boston Hodges and Caleb Primbs to spark a 10-2 run to close the half with the Challengers up 30-25.
Despite the relatively comfortable final margin of victory, Cascade Christian coach Brian Morse praised the Pirates, playing without injured senior leader Lucas Ashley, and their coach Ron Hop.
“They play so hard,” Morse said. “I was so impressed at how hard they can bring it. Coach Hop is a great coach.”
Trae Wall led the Pirates with 14 points and Hodges and Primbs added 11 each.
But Dayton couldn’t keep up with Cascade Christian’s torrid shooting, even if they did do a good job slowing the Challengers’ 7-footer Austin Maurer.
The Challengers shot 70 percent for the game — 76.5 percent in the second half — with the vast majority of the shots coming near the hoop on great passes between the teammates.
Hall had seven assists and the Challengers 13 as a team. Maurer and his twin brother Peyton both scored 13 points, with all of Peyton’s coming in the first half when he made all six of his shots and carried the team to the lead.
“Peyton did awesome,” Morse said. “Drew Hall did a great job down the stretch.”
Hall converted all eight of his free throws, denying Dayton a chance for a late comeback. As a team, the Challengers went 11-for-12 from the line.
“I thought we played great,” Morse said. “I love how they rose to the occasion.”
Like Hall, he was excited about how far Cascade Christian has come.
“That was a big one,” Morse said. “Dayton is so freaking good.
“We’re really excited because it measures how good of a team we are.”
Now they are in a rematch of last year’s semifinals against a team that also had its only 3A loss to Dayton when they face the Knights at 6 p.m. Friday.
De La Salle North Catholic 63, Creswell 51: The Knights fought off a number of surges by the Bulldogs to reach the semifinals, but Creswell kept it interesting the whole way.
Jordan James banked in a half-court shot at the first-quarter buzzer to give De La Salle North Catholic a 24-12 lead. It was the sixth trey of the first by the Knights.
Creswell kept the score close in the second quarter with a combination of drives to the hoop and 3-point shots and had a chance to cut the lead to three at one point, but the Knights pushed the advantage back out to 13 by halftime.
Creswell again carved into the lead in the third quarter, pulling within four with a chance to get closer before De La Salle North Catholic again extended the advantage. Two free throws by Elliot Ball-Dowling were the team’s first points in the half with nearly five minutes gone, but by the end of the quarter, the Knights were up by nine again.
Creswell never got close enough to threaten for the upset in the final quarter, though the Bulldogs were within 10 almost the entire quarter.
Ball-Dowling led the Knights with 14 points, hitting all four of his 3-pointers. Jaylen Hill added 13 and Israel Hill Jr. 11. The Knights made nine 3-pointers in all.
Max Velarde led the Bulldogs with 20 points. Connor Hanson had three first-half 3-pointers and finished with 12 and AJ Hodge scored 10.
Westside Christian 72, Pleasant Hill 56: The top-seed Eagles advanced to the semifinals against a familiar foe by pulling away from the Billies in the second half.
Westside Christian meets Lewis & Clark League rival Oregon Episcopal in the first semifinal Friday at 4:15 p.m.
Ethan Chiong had a game-high 25 points for Westside Christian. Dax Hanzlik added 14 and Jonah Jones 12.
In a statistical oddity, the Eagles did not attempt a free throw in the game.
Gavin Inglish had 21 for Pleasant Hill, which was even with the Eagles at 27 early in the second quarter before Westside Christian pulled away. Matthew Nguyen had 13 points for the Billies, who meet Banks in the consolation semifinals at North Bend High School at 9 a.m., followed by the Dayton-Creswell contest.
Oregon Episcopal 61, Banks 47: The Aardvarks surged in front in the third quarter, turning a 24-17 halftime deficit into a 43-31 lead, and went on to advance to the semifinals. Along the way Oregon Episcopal scored 24 points in a row.
Banks led 29-19 when A.J. Matheson-Lieber hit a jumper to start the spurt, which included four 3-pointers (the last by Henry Gewecke for a 43-29 lead) and seven Banks turnovers.
Levi Edelman had 22 points, Matheson-Lieber 14 and Sam Schwalbach 10 for OES, which lost both its regular-season games to Westside Christian and also fell to the Eagles in the conference tournament.
Ben Mayo had 17 points and Ian Bodine 10 for Banks.