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Raiders meet Yotes for berth at nationals

SOU Sports Information

The Southern Oregon men’s basketball team will find out if it has any magic left in reserve Tuesday at seventh-ranked College of Idaho as it attempts to pull off one of the most improbable runs ever through the Cascade Conference Championships.

The sixth-seeded Raiders (21-10 overall) executed their first two upsets of the tournament by a total of three points to set up the final against the second-seeded Yotes (27-5), which will tip off at 6:06 p.m. Pacific at J.A. Albertson Center.

Only two teams have previously won three consecutive road games to capture the tournament title: Corban, as the No. 8 seed in 2017, and C of I, as the No. 5 seed in ‘03.

SOU prevented C of I from claiming its share of the regular-season crown on Feb. 15 in Ashland by handing the Yotes an 85-69 loss that marked their most lopsided of the season.

But the Yotes are 15-1 in Caldwell — taking their only loss in overtime against Corban in buzzer-beating fashion — and are the defending tourney champs, having defeated Warner Pacific 75-73 in last year’s title game.

The game will air on ROOT Sports Northwest with Bob Akamian and Dave Harshman on the call.

The Raiders need a win to claim the CCC’s second automatic bid to the 32-team NAIA Division II National Tournament, which will be held March 6-12 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

They’re seeking their ninth overall appearance in the national field and first since 2016. The Yotes are already in, assured of no worse than an at-large bid thanks to their No. 7 ranking in the latest Top 25 coaches’ poll. Oregon Tech earned the CCC’s first automatic bid by winning a regular-season title.

After going 9-9 in CCC play, the Raiders started their run with a 78-77 quarterfinal win at third-seeded Northwest Christian last Wednesday, though they nearly lost all of an eight-point lead in the final 30 seconds.

SOU was down 11 midway through the first half of Saturday’s 76-74 semifinal win at fourth-seeded Corban. Aaron Borich played the hero with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

The Yotes have taken a contrasting path. They started with a 96-61 dismantling of seventh-seeded Warner Pacific, then took down eighth-seeded Northwest (Wash.) 95-59 after the Eagles eliminated top-seeded OIT in the quarterfinals.

The Raiders were named the conference team of the week on Sunday, and guard Tristen Holmes was chosen player of the week on Monday.

After going for 19 and nine at NCU, he recorded 20 points and four assists at Corban and shot a combined 9 of 12 from 3-point range in the victories.

Holmes has been clutch in connecting on 13 of his last 16 long-range attempts; prior to the stretch, he’d gone 15 of 83 this season.

Southern Oregon University coach Brian McDermott talks to players during an earlier game.{ }