Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
A disastrous opening quarter only made St. Mary's response that much more impressive as the Crusaders continued their dominant march toward the playoffs with a 48-27 victory over Cascade Christian in the Southern Cascade Hybrid tournament championship game Saturday at St. Mary's High School.
The win, the Crusaders' 11th in a row, all but guarantees St. Mary's a home game next Saturday in the first round of the 16-team Class 3A girls basketball state playoff bracket. A win there would advance the Crusaders to the final eight-team tournament the following week at Marshfield and North Bend High Schools.
Cascade Christian will probably have to travel for its playoff opener. First-round pairings are expected to be released by the OSAA via www.osaa.org this afternoon.
"We didn't want to leave it up to the other teams that are playing to get a home game and get a good seed going into the state playoffs," St. Mary's head coach Richard Vasey said. "That was what we talked about and I think the girls responded really well."
Not at first, though.
The Crusaders (23-2) scored just two points in the first quarter, and even those were "lucky," admitted Vasey — a pair of free throws with only seconds remaining. But St. Mary's, which hasn't lost since Jan. 4, played good enough defense to stay within a point, 3-2, and heated up considerably in the second quarter to take control.
By halftime, St. Mary's had built a 14-point lead, and it only added to it in the second half.
"We opened it up and kind of got into a rhythm," Vasey said. "Going into halftime with that cushion really helped. (Cascade Christian) came out and made a run in the third quarter, but luckily we were kind of able to hold them off and keep that cushion through the third."
Rose Alvarez led the Crusaders with 13 points, Emily Alvarez added 10 and Lillian Martin eight. The Crusaders also got a big lift from Elise Vasey, whose interior defense limited Challengers post Alaina Thomson, the SCH co-MVP, to four points.
Richard Vasey also credited Sam Wyland and Dakota Rothfus with giving the Crusaders a key spark off the bench in the second quarter.
"That kind of opened it up for us and gave us some breathing room," Vasey said.
Stephanie Croy scored 10 points and Ali Spani six to pace Cascade Christian (14-11), which is 0-3 against St. Mary's this season.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (27) — Hooper 1, Croy 10, Spani 6, Miller 1, Kinney 5, Thomson 4, Alvarez 0, Bales 0, Battiato 0, Zimmerer 0, Reen 0, Auchard 0. Totals: 8 8-19 27.
ST. MARY'S (48) — DeBoer 4, E. Alvarez 10, R. Alvarez 13, Eaton 3, Martin 8, Juncal 2, Weiland 6, Rothfus 2, E. Vasey 0, Ramsay 0, Barnum 0, M. Vasey 0. Totals: 18 8-15 48.
Cascade Christian 3 7 12 5 — 27
St. Mary's 2 22 14 10 — 48
3-point goals — Cascade Christian 3 (Spani 2, Kinney 1), St. Mary's 4 (R. Alvarez 3, Martin 1). Fouled out — Ramsay. Technical foul — Ramsay.