North Medford High wrestling coach Phillip Lopez isn't the type to get carried away.
The second-ranked North Valley boys basketball team capped a perfect season with a state championship on Friday night.
The Knights downed top-ranked Cascade 64-50 in the Class 4A state title game at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis to finish the year 27-0 and pick up their first championship in 27 years. Not since Brookings in 2009 had a 4A squad gone undefeated.
"It feels pretty awesome and I'm pretty excited for this great bunch of guys," North Valley head coach Jeff Nelson said.
Cascade (26-2) trailed big for most of the game, but made things a little more interesting in the fourth quarter by outscoring North Valley 21-18. Truman Clark's 3-pointer with 1:51 left cut North Valley's lead to seven points. On the Knights' next two offensive possessions, Chris Morsa and Kevin Brazille each made the first of two free throws before missing the second. After missed shots by both squads, Cameron Lyon helped to clinch the triumph by going 5 of 6 at the charity stripe in the last 48 seconds.
Lyon, a junior guard, finished with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. Brazille, a senior guard, had 15 points and buried all three of his 3-point attempts, while 6-foot-9 senior post JJ Chirnside went for 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Morsa added 12 points, six rebounds and three assists and senior wing Tristan Burke eight points, five assists and three rebounds.
The victory was especially sweet for North Valley, which lost in the opening round of the tournament last year to Sisters after entering the bracket with a 25-2 record and ranked second in the OSAA power rankings.
"We had a darn good team last year," Nelson said. "We could have won that first game and didn't take advantage of some opportunities like we should have. The group of guys who came back, that is what we've talked about since the first day of practice, about unfinished business. It was gonna be a long season and there were a lot of things we had to do to get back, but that was the focus. ... Fortunately we won all the games along the way, but we knew it wouldn't be easy. We are fortunate to have a great bunch of kids."
On Friday, the Knights led 27-16 at halftime and owned a 17-point advantage entering the final frame.
Brazille, who also had three steals, was named the OSAA player of the game for North Valley. Josh Delamarter, who paced Cascade with 19 points, was given player of the game honors for his team.
The Cougars led by four points about midway through the first quarter before Morsa — who helped fill in for the injured Wyatt McCue — helped turn things around by knocking down a jumper and two 3s. A triple by Lyon and layup by Burke put the Knights in charge by nine heading into the second quarter.
"We were able to spread the ball with (Morsa) and Kevin and Cameron hitting shots," Nelson said. "It opened things up."
Cascade — which finished second in the final coaches poll to North Valley — shot just 26.2 percent (17-for-65) on the night, while the Knights were an efficient 52.6 percent (20-38). The Cougars were frigid behind the 3-point line, connecting on six of their 32 attempts. North Valley made seven of its 10 3s.
Cascade had not made it to a state title game since 1974.
Clark 2-10 0-0 6, P. Vettrus 1-8 1-1 3, Wright 4-11 1-2 10, Kruse 2-4 0-0 4, Delamarter, 6-20 5-7 19, Molan 0-0 0-0 0, Schirmer 1-7 1-2 4, Towery 1-3 0-0 2, Everetts 0-0 0-0 0, Farr 0-1 0-0 0, Soto 0-0 0-0 0, J. Vettrus 0-1 2-5 2. Totals: 17-65 10-17 50.
NORTH VALLEY (27-0)
Brazille 4-8 4-7 15, Burke 4-5 0-0 8, McCue 0-0 0-0 0, Lyon 4-7 6-9 15, Chirnside 4-8 4-6 12, Thompson 0-0 2-2 2, Olmstead 0-0 0-0 0, Tappan 0-0 0-0 0, Vodicka 0-0 0-0 0, Morsa 4-10 1-2 12, Nelson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-38 17-26 64.
Cascade 7 9 13 21 — 50
North Valley 16 11 19 18 — 64
3-point goals — Cascade 6-32 (Clark 2-10, P. Vettrus 0-4, Wright 1-2, Delamarter 2-8, Schirmer 1-6, Farr 0-1, J. Vettrus 0-1), North Valley 7-10 (Brazille 3-3, Lyon 1-2, Morsa 3-5). Rebounds — Cascade 40 (Wright 9), North Valley 36 (Chirnside 13). Assists — Cascade 9 (P. Vettrus 3), North Valley 13 (Burke 5). Total fouls — Cascade 24, North Valley 12. Fouled out — Clark, P. Vettrus.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org