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Grants Pass tips Churchill to place fourth

Senior Brant Minor comes back from an injury to spark the Cavemen

PORTLAND - Brant Minor had a noticeable limp as he warmed up for Saturday's fourth-place game at the Class 4A boys state basketball tournament.

The Grants Pass senior forward had suffered a deep thigh bruise the day before, and his status against Churchill was in doubt.

But then Minor received a healthy dose of an athlete's best medicine - adrenaline.

A little over one hour later, Minor fueled an 11-0 run in the game's final — minute and 45 seconds as the Cavemen stormed from behind to pin a 63-55 defeat on the stunned Lancers.

Minor scored seven points in the run.

"Before the game started, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to play," said Minor, who had his left thigh wrapped with an ace bandage. "It was really sore and I couldn't run without limping, but once the game started the adrenalin flowed and I was able to put it out of my mind."

"This was the last game of my high school career," he added "and I wanted to be out there contributing."

Contribute he did.

With the Cavemen trailing 55-52 late in the fourth quarter, Minor spun around Churchill star Jordan Kent for a layup and got fouled on the play.

Minor made the free throw that tied the game at 55-55 with 1:45 remaining and then, after teammate Bruce Voges took a charge at the other end, sank two more free throws with 51.4 seconds left that put Grants Pass ahead to stay.

Bart Baily, Tyler York and Minor each added two more free throws over the final 27.6 seconds for the final margin of victory.

A 58-percent free-throw shooter on the season, Minor went 5-for-5 in the fourth quarter and 7-for-8 for the game, bad leg and all.

"I just focused and shot the ball like I should have been shooting it all season," said Minor, who scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth period. "I just thought about winning this game for my teammates and all the fans who drove up here to watch us play."

York led the Cavemen with 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and only two turnovers. Kory Mahr added 13 points and Voges and Tom Cohen each chipped in eight.

The 14th-seeded Cavemen finished their season with a bang, shocking No. — seed Jefferson, 82-68, in the opening round of the tournament and adding wins over No. 2 seed Thurston (60-37) and No. 5 seed Churchill.

In between, they suffered a 45-42 loss to No. 6 Tigard.

"For whatever reason, we just totally peaked at this tournament," said Grants Pass coach Bill Cowell, whose team finished the season with a 24-5 record. "Everyone dreams of winning the state championship, but realistically, for us to take fourth is a great accomplishment."

With York drilling a couple of NBA-range 3-pointers and Minor adding a three-point play in the final three minutes of the first half, the Cavemen took a 27-22 lead into the break.

Grants Pass' lead swelled to nine points at 34-25 21/2 minutes into the third period on two free throws and a layup by Voges and back-to-back baskets by Mahr.

But Churchill, which won the state championship last season and has collected six straight trophies at the tournament under veteran coach John Roche, fought back.

Joel Worcester drained two 3-pointers and his younger brother, Jesse, and Kent added one each over the final 5:23 of the period as the Lancers closed within 42-39.

York hit a 17-foot jumper to give Grants Pass a 44-39 lead at the start of the fourth period, but Joel Worcester hit a 13-foot jumper, Kent made two free throws and Jesse Worcester added a free throw as Churchill tied the game at 44-44 with 5:54 to play.

There were three more ties and two lead changes over the next three minutes before Jesse Worcester, the Lancers' sophomore point guard, scored five straight points to give Churchill a 55-52 advantage.

But then Minor did his magic, and the Cavemen were on their way to perhaps their biggest win since 1962, when they beat Marshfield for the state championship.

"They made the plays down the stretch and we didn't," said Roche, who announced on Thursday that he was retiring from coaching. "We had chances to score at the end, but we kept turning it over."

Kent paced the Lancers with 19 points while Joel Worcester had 15 and Jesse Worcester 10.

Grants Pass shot 57 percent from the field (20 of 35) and 76 percent from the free-throw line (19 of 25).

CHURCHILL (55) - Kent 7-12 3-3 19, Jo. Worcester 6-14 0-0 15, Je. Worcester 3-5 4-5 12, Alsup 2-7 0-0 4, White 2-3 0-0 4, Ralston 0-1 1-2 1, White 2-3 0-0 4, Vobora 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-43 8-10 55.

GRANTS PASS (63) - York 5-10 3-4 15, Mahr 4-6 5-6 13, Minor 3-6 7-8 13, Cohen 3-7 0-0 8, Voges 4-5 0-3 8, Baily 1-1 4-4 6. Draper 0-0 0-0 0, LaLonde 0-0 0-0 0, Cameron 0-0 0-0 0, Mathews 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Heater 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-35 19-25 63.

Churchill..................................................13 9 17 16 - 55Grants Pass...........................................14 13 15 21 - 63

3-point goals - Churchill 7-17 (Je. Worcester 2-4, Jo. Worcester 3-9, Kent 2-3, White 0-1), Grants Pass 4-11 (Cohen 2-5, York 2-5, Minor 0-1). Total fouls - Churchill 19, Grants Pass 11. Fouled out - None. Rebounds - Churchill 17 (Kent 4), Grants Pass 24 (York 7). Assists - Churchill 8 (Jo. Worcester 3), Grants Pass 15 (York 7). Turnovers - Churchill 14, Grants Pass 15.