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'It's such a dream'

It's been quite a week for Oregon Tech senior guard Ryan Fiegi.

With hardware in hand and pain to show for his efforts, Fiegi, a 2004 South Medford graduate, put the final touches on a stellar career by leading the Owls to the NAIA Division II national title on Tuesday and earning NAIA Division II Player of the Year.

And as the final buzzer sounded on the 11th-seeded Owls' 63-56 victory over top-ranked Bellevue (Neb.), capping an improbable run through the tournament, the 6-foot-7 Fiegi threw both arms exuberantly in the air.

Really, that's about all he could do after carrying OIT through the tournament with a broken thumb on his shooting hand and a dislocated patella.

"I was so physically and mentally drained, it was hard to celebrate with them," said Fiegi, who was also named the tournament's most outstanding player. "It will probably take me a few days to comprehend what just happened and to heal up.

"It's been a haze. It's such a dream right now. I still can't believe we pulled off what we did. What a way to go out as a senior. It's something you always dream of as a little kid."

It was a remarkable finish to conclude an extraordinary season for Fiegi.

He averaged 20.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game in 2007-08, as well as leading the Owls in blocks and steals and earning Cascade Collegiate Conference player of the year honors.

The versatile Fiegi made the switch from off guard to point guard this season with the departure of All-American Levell Hesia, the Owls' all-time leading scorer.

Fiegi's success handling that transition helped key OIT's second national title this decade — the other coming in 2004, also against Bellevue.

Fiegi had 198 assists to just 98 turnovers on the season and, with his size, was a difficult matchup for most defenses.

"He's probably the only player I had that could be all-conference at all five positions," said 37-year OIT coach Danny Miles, the NAIA Division II coach of the year. "He's definitely in the mix" of the best players in school history.

He's also the only OIT player, Miles said, who has ever received interest from NBA personnel when long-time league scout Marty Blake contacted Miles regarding Fiegi's future prospects.

Fiegi entered the national tournament in the hunt for national player of the year and secured that by averaging 22.4 points per game in five postseason games.

He poured in 30 points in the semifinals against MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), outplaying last year's national player of the year Adam Hepker, who was held to 17 points.

Fiegi scored a game-high 22 points in the championship game, all despite the broken thumb he incurred late in the season while drawing a charge and a dislocated patella suffered after banging knees with an opponent 11 minutes into the opening game of the national tournament.

"When I was down there on the ground, I was thinking the very worst," Fiegi said. "There goes my season."

But Fiegi's patella was popped into place on the court and he had to be carried off the floor. Trainers taped the knee and he was ready to play in the second half, despite obvious pain.

"A lot of kids wouldn't have even played with that type of injury," Miles said. "It just surprised the heck out of me. He probably couldn't have played any more after (Tuesday) night's game. He showed a lot of heart and is a very inspirational guy. He had a tremendous career."

Fiegi, whose older brother Eric was a four-time NAIA Division II All-American at Corban College in Salem, ends his career second on OIT's all-time scoring list, but spent only three years in the program after transferring from Western Oregon University following his freshman season.

"I'm very happy for him and what he's done," said South Medford coach Dennis Murphy, who also sent sophomores Myles Daley and Brent Johnson to OIT. "He is a well deserving kid who has worked hard."

Fiegi and the team will be honored today in Klamath Falls with a parade at 5 p.m. and a rally at Danny Miles Court at 6:30 p.m.

As for his future?

Fiegi will graduate this spring with an accounting degree and already has a job offer from the accounting and consulting firm Moss Adams LLP in Medford.

He will marry former OIT softball player and ex-Panther Jackie Chaplin on July 19.

And his basketball days just might not be over, after all.

"Before going into the tournament, I was going to be done with basketball," Fiegi said. "With what happened this weekend, I won't say I won't ever play again."

Reach reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or e-mail landrews@mailtribune.com

Oregon Tech’s Ryan Fiegi reacts after the Owls defeated Bellevue University to win the 2008 NAIA Division II national title on Tuesday.