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Freshman Murphy sparks St. Mary's 45-40 BFL tournament victory over Cascade Christian

St. Mary's David Naumes (left) and Jake Smith (partially hidden) strip the ball from Cascade's Joe Moxley (3).

When Chris Murphy shoots a basketball, his form is far from textbook perfect.

Artistry doesn't matter much, though, when your team has trailed for — quarters of what could be its last game of the season.

The 6-foot-2 freshman forward sparked St. Mary's to a 45-40 Big Fir League Tournament victory over Cascade Christian at the South Medford gym Thursday night.

Murphy drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Crusaders a 34-33 lead with 5:09 to play.

I didn't give it much thought, it just felt good and I put it up, Murphy said. It was a big boost for us and pumped us up.

He followed with another trey closer to the top of the key for a 37-33 advantage and the Challengers never recovered.

When he got open, I said as loud as I could, `Shoot it,' said senior guard Brendan Wilson. He swung between the JV and varsity this year and really lit up. If he hits that first shot, he gets that look in his eye and he doesn't hesitate.

The Crusaders, who trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, took their cue from Murphy. Wilson backdoored the Challengers for a layin to make it 39-33 with four minutes to play and hit six straight free throws to clinch the victory.

I haven't had much confidence in my free throws all year, Wilson said. But our coaches told me not to worry about the last shot, just the next one.

the time Wilson laced his final free throw with 27 seconds to play, the Crusaders (14-11) were headed for tonight's second-round game against Riddle, a 92-71 winner over Pacific. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. at South Medford, with the winner assured a spot in the Class 2A state regional at Umpqua Community College.

We started five seniors, and all of us were really nervous coming in, said Wilson, who scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. It was just a matter of putting it together. We didn't want this to be our last game.

Neither did the Challengers (13-13), who bolted out to a 7-0 lead and hit their first five shots.

But the turnover bug that plagued Cascade early in the season bit again as the Challengers committed 23 turnovers.

We couldn't get in sync offensively in the second half, Cascade coach Brian Morse said. They did a good job of pressuring our wings and caused us trouble getting the ball inside.

That's exactly what the Challengers were able to do the when they beat St. Mary's 46-43 earlier this month.

We got pounded on the inside last time and they were getting two or three shots, St. Mary's coach Tim Pflug said. We had to cut that off, pressure the perimeter and step in front of the post. We were hoping they'd think something was there and be ready to get the ball if they weren't.

After Cascade hit 5-of-8 shots in the first quarter, St. Mary's limited the Challengers to 7-of-28 shooting the rest of the way.

We wanted to reach that frenzied point defensively and then back off, Pflug said. We didn't have the silly fouls. We just wanted consistent traps and to take away the passing lanes. Our intensity eventually got to wearing them down.

Cascade center Tim Milojevich, who scored 31 points in his previous outing against Riddle, was limited to 11 points.

We got a little sluggish after the second quarter, Milojevich said. We wanted it really bad, but it just didn't happen.

ST. MARY'S (45) -- Becker 3, Snmith 10, Wilson 11, Malfavon 0, McNulty 0, J. Naumes 2, D. Naumes 11, Lurie 0, Barnard 0, Murphy 8, Haas 0. Totals: 17-54 8-13 45.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (40) -- Moxley 8, Kimmelshue 8, Jenkins 6, Stutzman 3, Huttema 0, Horton 0, Cook 0, Milojevich 11, Alvarez 4. Totals: 12-36 10-11 40.

St. Mary's 6 15 10 14 -- 45

Cascade Christian 13 13 7 7 -- 40

3-point goals -- St. Mary's — (Becker 1, Murphy 2). Cascade Christian 6 (Moxley 1, Kimmelshue 2, Jenkins 2, Stutzman 1). Fouled out -- D. Naumes, Moxley.

Freshman Murphy sparks St. Mary's 45-40 BFL tournament victory over Cascade Christian