Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
Eagle Point and West Albany haven't played each other this season, but that doesn't mean the boys basketball teams aren't familiar with one another.
They squared off in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs last year, with the Mid-Willamette Conference Bulldogs posting a 69-43 victory over Eagle Point.
The loss prevented the Eagles from making a second straight appearance in the state tournament at Matthew Knight Arena on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.
Eagle Point had gone 33 years without making the state tournament until doing so in 2012 under first-year head coach Bryan Wood.
The Eagles are back in the tourney this week and will attempt to extract revenge against West Albany in a quarterfinal matchup at 3:15 p.m. today.
Eagle Point (21-3) is seeded fourth and the Bulldogs (20-5) fifth.
The winner today faces the victor between top-seeded Jefferson and Wilsonville at 3:15 p.m. Friday. The losers in the two quarterfinal games play at 9 a.m. Friday.
The Eagles advanced to the finals site for the second time in three years — and only the fourth time in school history — with a wild, 55-53 victory over Crescent Valley Saturday.
In that game, senior guard Cesar Chavez scored the game-winning basket on a short shot with 1.5 seconds left, capping a 23-point effort.
Crescent Valley is the only common opponent the Eagles and West Albany have this season, and the results were similar.
The Bulldogs split with their conference brethren, losing at home by four points and winning at CV by five.
West Albany advanced to the tournament with an impressive win over Columbia River League champion Hermiston, 73-55. It was the Bulldogs' ninth straight win and 11th in 12 games.
West Albany used an outside-inside attack to bury Hermiston.
The Bulldogs' best player is 6-foot-8 post Nate Sherwood, but when Hermiston clogged the middle with a 3-2 zone at the game's outset, West Albany made six 3-pointers in the first quarter, forcing its opponent to go to man-to-man.
Sherwood, the Mid-Willamette player of the year, then feasted and scored 16 of his 24 points by halftime.
Sherwood averaged close to a double-double during the regular season, with 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
He was joined in receiving conference all-league honors by junior Isaiah Edwards, a first-teamer, and senior second-team selection Zach Heagy.
Against Eagle Point last year, Sherwood scored 26 points to usher the Bulldogs to the tournament. They lost to eventual champion Jefferson in the quarterfinals, 55-52, and wound up placing sixth.
West Albany was runner-up in 2011.
The Bulldogs have faced tough nonconference competition. They lost 62-55 to South Medford and were routed by 32 points by West Linn. Both foes are in the 6A tournament this week.
They also beat Lincoln, a 6A first-round playoff loser, and suffered a big loss to Churchill, which is in the other half of this week's 5A bracket.
Eagle Point has won six straight games. One of its three losses was a 60-56 mid-December decision to Springfield, which narrowly lost recently in the 5A playoffs to Jefferson, 82-78. Jefferson is the top seed in the tournament.
The Eagles rely on 5-foot-8 guards Chavez and Jorge Quintero, a senior who added 19 points in the win over Crescent Valley.
They have some size to throw at Sherwood in hopes of stopping the Bulldogs' star, who has attracted interest from mid-major Division I colleges but hasn't committed to a school.
Eagle Point's inside presence comes from 6-5 Bryson Baker, 6-4 Austin Holmes and 6-3 Peyton Dole. All are seniors.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com