PHOENIX — The undefeated Cascade Christian boys basketball cruised past Phoenix, 56-42, in the Phoenix Invitational final at the Pirates' gymnasium on Saturday.
Not bad for a bunch of football players.
The Challengers (3-0), who captured the Class 3A state title on the gridiron on Nov. 30, got some valuable assistance from their football standouts in the hoops triumph over 4A Phoenix. David Sellers, Dalton Palmer, TJ Alvarez and Kenny Laws all filled important roles on the field this fall and on the court this weekend. Quarterback Seth Knox, the 3A state offensive player of the year, turned an ankle on Friday and did not play Saturday.
One Cascade Christian player who wasn't part of the school's pigskin success — junior guard Cody Coggins — went off for 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists and later claimed the invite's most valuable player award.
But after squeezing the glimmering Phoenix Invitational trophy, Coggins had to pass it off to the rulers of the turf for their immediate contributions on the hardwood.
"I thought that was a great showing for our team considering some of these guys just have a few practices under their belts," Coggins said.
Collectively, the boys in royal purple gave the Pirates a hard time. Phoenix had to contend with the sound perimeter play of Coggins, junior Christian Kammerzell (10 points), Laws (nine points) and Jase Artale (seven points) and deal with the paint punishment from the 6-foot-6 Sellers (10 points) and 6-5 Aaron Cesaro (10 rebounds).
Cascade Christian led 16-6 after the first quarter and held a 32-20 advantage at halftime.
"For only having the football players back for less than three or four days, it was nice," Cascade Christian head coach Brian Morse said. "We got them back last Saturday. They played really good together, their teamwork was good. It will take a while to see who emerges out of these guys as stars, but they really played good together and I thought their defense was pretty solid."
While many Rogue Valley hoops squads were hit hard by the recent poor weather — some cancelled as many as three games and did not practice for a week — the Challengers didn't have to alter their plans as much. Morse planned on Cascade Christian's football team doing well as he built his schedule early on, setting up a calendar that dodged ice and snow that wreaked havoc here.
"We still have our 24 games," he said.
The Challengers performed well in their first three contests, with wins over 4A Mazama (64-38), 5A Ashland (61-40) and then Phoenix.
Against the Pirates, Sellers helped his team gain an early advantage by scoring eight of his points in the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Coggins with 1:44 left in the opening period put Cascade Christian on top, 14-2, and a layup in transition by Sellers made it 16-2.
Coggins scored his team's final five points of the second quarter to enter intermission on a roll.
"It was good to get up early and just play as a team," Kammerzell said.
The Challengers owned a 39-22 edge at one point in the third.
The rim was a cold place for the Pirates, especially in the fourth: the home team went just 5-of-19 in the final minutes.
Jason Wyncoop had 13 points and six rebounds and Joey Raffensperger 10 points for Phoenix (2-1).
"I felt like our team had a tremendous effort," Phoenix head coach Jeff Rhoades said.
At the Phoenix Invitational awards ceremony, Ashland's Collin Malcolm, Del Norte's Steven Maready, Phoenix's Tyson Morris and Jose Deras and Cesaro earned spots on the all-tournament team.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (56) — Artale 7, Laws 9, Kammerzell 10, Coggins 17, Alvarez 0, Palmer 2, Sellers 10, Cesaro 1. Totals: 19 15-21 56.
PHOENIX (42) — Mahaffey 3, Raffensperger 10, Hay 3, Hague 0, Leavens 0, Wyncoop 13, Champion-Blazio 4, Morris 5, Deras 4. Totals: 14 11-23 42.
Cascade Christian 16 16 13 11 — 56
Phoenix 6 14 10 12 — 42
3-point goals — Cascade Christian 3 (Artale 1, Laws 1, Coggins 1), Phoenix 3 (Mahaffey 1, Hay 1, Champion-Blazio 1). Technical foul — Morris.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him online at www.twitter.com/dljcards or www.facebook.com/danjonesmt