Cascade Christian's Austin Maurer throws down a reverse dunk Thursday for two of his 24 points. (Photo by John Gunther)
Cascade Christian's Austin Maurer throws down a reverse dunk Thursday for two of his 24 points. (Photo by John Gunther)


NORTH BEND — Cascade Christian’s boys passed their first test in their quest for a third straight title in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 3A basketball tournament when the Challengers pulled away from De La Salle North Catholic in the second half Thursday for a 78-60 victory at North Bend High School.

Next up for Cascade Christian, another big test, No. 2 seed Valley Catholic, which used a strong second half to beat Dayton in another quarterfinal. De La Salle, Valley Catholic and top seed Westside Christian on the other half of the bracket were co-champions of the Lewis & Clark League.

Cascade Christian and Valley Catholic meet at 3:15 p.m. at Marshfield High School, following the first semifinal between Westside Christian and Harrisburg at 1:30.

“Last year we had to run the gauntlet,” Cascade Christian coach Brian Morse said. “I call this running the gauntlet 2.”

The first game was a lot tougher than the 18-point final margin might suggest.

Cascade Christian got off to a fast start and led by 10 points late in the first quarter before the Knights started chipping away, and when Quincy Aranda hit a half-court shot at the buzzer, De La Salle was back within four points. The Knights took a lead with 12 seconds left in the half on two free throws by Aranda, but the Challengers went into the locker room ahead by one at 38-37 when Avery Huston dunked on the other end before the buzzer.

Typical of the Cascade Christian’s unselfish style, the Challengers has 12 assists on 15 baskets while shooting 60 percent from the floor in the opening half, but De La Salle had 15 more shots to make up for its lower shooting success (42 percent).

In the second half, Cascade Christian’s percentage went down, but the Challengers did a better job rebounding and took advantage of De La Salle’s shooting woes.

“At halftime, we talked about doing the things that got us here — rebounding, containment, being patient on offense,” Morse said.

And playing full-throttle.

“We like to run the ball,” Morse said. “That’s what got us the lead.”

So the Challengers pushed the pace, which is normally De La Salle’s style, and took advantage of opportunities.

Austin Maurer had 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Challengers in the win and the 7-foot senior rebounded several of his own misses for put-back hoops. Huston also had 24 points and added 10 boards while Jaren Fronckowiak had 11 points.

The close game was a blast, Fronckowiak said.

“It was exciting,” he said. “I love the tension, I love the crowd, I love the energy.”

Fronckowiak played a key role in the Challengers’ offense flowing well with his six assists and said the team thrives on sharing the ball.

“We love getting our teammates involved and sharing the rock,” he said.

The Challengers finished with 17 assists on 27 hoops and shot just over 50 percent for the game (27-for-53).

Morse expected the close game from the Knights. The two teams played in the championship game two years ago and the Challengers beat the Knights by one in the semifinals last year.

Next up, another big contest with the Valiants

De La Salle, meanwhile, will try to bounce back in the consolation semifinals Friday morning against Dayton.

Aranda had 17 points for the Knights and Jaylen Hill added 14 points while battling Maurer inside.

VALLEY CATHOLIC 62, DAYTON 55: The Valiants turned around a five-point halftime deficit to advance to the semifinal matchup with Cascade Christian.

After settling for quick outside shots on offense and letting Dayton get the ball inside on defense the first two quarters, Valley Catholic locked down the inside with their defense and found ways to get the ball to the basket for themselves.

“We moved the ball around and decided to get the ball into the post,” said Valley Catholic’s Luke Jarussi. “We scored a bunch of points on that.”

Jarussi was one of the beneficiaries, finishing with 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Zach Pippin added 13 points and Jackson Farris had 12. Noah Holub had six assists and 12 rebounds to go with six points.

The other half of the equation was closing down Dayton’s inside attack.

Clyde Rosenberg was a dominant force for the Pirates in the first half when he scored 18 points. But he only had six in the second half and one of his three buckets came from just inside the 3-point line.

“We decided to change our defense and not let them get the ball inside,” Jarussi said.

After Dayton shot nearly 54 percent from the floor in the first half, the Pirates shot just 33 percent in the second half. Even though they made three fourth-quarter 3-pointers, they couldn’t counter all Valley Catholic’s hoops at the rim.

The Valiants shot 17-for-27 in the second half (63 percent) and 16-for-21 from inside the arc.

Jarussi said the Valiants are excited about the challenge of facing Cascade Christian.

“We’re excited to prove what we can do,” he said. “We’ve got size the other teams don’t have.”

Austin Bodenhamer had three 3-pointers and 10 points for Dayton while Boston Hedges added eight and DJ Holloway seven.

WESTSIDE CHRISTIAN 67, NEAH-KAH-NIE 39: The top-ranked Eagles got off to a slow start before heating up and pulling away from the Pirates, who are in the tournament for the first time since 1966.

Neah-Kah-Nie led 18-15 through one quarter.

The Eagles turned up the defense, limiting Neah-Kah-Nie to seven points in the second quarter and then outscored the Pirates 22-4 in the third for a 58-29 lead on the way to earning a semifinal date with Harrisburg.

Kahlid Hodge nabbed four steals in the second quarter alone and seven for the game and Westside Christian forced Neah-Kah-Nie into 19 turnovers.

Will Ficker and Kyler Crites scored 13 points each for Westside Christian, while Dax Hanzlik added 12 and Hodge scored nine and added seven assists.

Ethan Hanson had 13 points and Ivan Dante had eight points and 13 rebounds for Neah-Kah-Nie, which meets Burns in the consolation semifinals at Marshfield on Friday morning.

HARRISBURG 44, BURNS 29: Terren Crabb had 17 points and Jack Lidbeck 13 and the Eagles advanced to the semifinals by outscoring the Hilanders 27-15 over the middle two quarters.

Crabb, Lidbeck and Jordan Baker combined to shoot 7-for-13 from 3-point range for Harrisburg and Jayden Bellinger pulled in 16 rebounds. All five starters for the Eagles played the entire game.

Jaxon Hoyt had nine points and Jack Wright and Zane Perry-Kozeni added seven each for Burns.