Morse has Cascade on the rise
It was relatively easy to coach Cascade Christian's boys basketball team the past four years:
Get the ball in Marty Maurer's hands, watch him shoot, rebound and pave the way to the Class 2A state playoffs.
With Maurer and friends graduating last spring, Cascade coach Brian Morse rolled up his sleeves and went to work. Although the Challengers finished the recent regular season just over the .500 mark at 13-12, Morse did some of the best coaching of his nine-year tenure.
The Challengers came on strong -- winning five of their final seven games -- to finish third in the Big Fir League. They outgunned second-place Riddle, 100-84, Saturday night and are two league-tournament wins away from another trip to the regionals.
This team keeps getting better and better, Morse says. I've had a lot of teams in the past get off to good starts; it was hard to keep them motivated, and they didn't improve as much.
This current bunch has improved, but not without growing pains.
We knew we were going to struggle, Morse says. We were starting two sophomores and three juniors, and the two sophomores were our guards.
It was baptism by fire for point guard Don Jenkins and off-guard Andy Kimmelshue.
Everybody full-court pressed and put a lot of pressure on them, Morse says. We tried throwing over the top of the press, cross-court passes and floater passes -- all the things you'd don't do.
The first half of the season, Cascade averaged 22 turnovers per game.
Andy Kimmelshue brings the ball down against the press, Morse says. He's about 5-foot-7 and weighs about 110 pounds. He got intimidated by bigger players. When he got trapped, he'd get bumped and go flying and wouldn't get a call. He didn't understand it.
But Morse kept the faith with his youngsters and they responded.
The second half of the campaign, the Challengers cut the turnover damage in half, to 11 per outing. Against Riddle, they committed just six.
Our guard play has improved drastically, Morse says. They were scared to death the first half of the season. We'd get 20 points down before we realized we could play with these teams. Then we'd exert so much energy coming back that we'd get tired and end up losing close ones.
A seven-point loss at Riddle was considered an accomplishment. Then the Challengers avenged a 52-29 loss to St. Mary's with a 46-43 victory on Jan. 31.
The cross-town rivals collide again at 6 p.m. Thursday at South Medford in the first round of the Big Fir playoffs. The winner will only need to win once more to make regionals. That's a lot closer than one would've guessed Cascade would be when the Challengers started the season.
CLOUD(Y) FORECAST: Veteran football coach Dick Cloud returns to the sideline next fall after a 10-year break, taking over the Henley High program.
I've been in retirement long enough, says the 52-year-old Henley Elementary School principal. It's time to do some work.
Cloud coached at Eagle Point from 1982 through 1987, guiding the Eagles to their first two Class 4A playoff appearances in 1984 and 1986.
Before that, Cloud had four playoff teams in eight years at Burns and coached two years in Stayton. He succeeds interim coach Jess Schefstrom, who is also the school's boys basketball coach.
It was something I always enjoyed and there was an opportunity here, says Cloud, whose office is but a punt's distance from the high school. I thought, `I'll apply and see if I get the job,' and son-of-a-gun if they didn't give it to me.
I'm going to get the old playbook dusted off and see if I can find kids who want to play.
Henley has been remarkably consistent the past two decades, making the Class 3A state playoffs a dozen times since 1980, including the past four years.
I'm kind of excited about it, Cloud says. We started an early-bird weight-lifting class the second semester, and the kids are doing some speed work. We're going to try the triple option with this team.
Cloud's playbook has evolved.
When I went to Burns, we had big linemen and we just powered the ball and threw a little, Cloud says. At Eagle Point, we had little-bitty linemen. We had teams that didn't average 180 pounds. We had a 155-pound center and 160-pound guards. We had to throw the ball and get rid of it quick.
With neighboring Mazama going from the Southern Oregon Conference to the Skyline Conference next fall, Cloud foresees an instant rivalry.
I think there might be a little fun with Mazama right here in town, he says.
(Greg Stiles is a Mail Tribune sports writer. He can be reached at 776-4483 or by e-mail at )