Cascade Christian reaps rewards for stellar season
Brian Morse had a feeling from Day 1 that this was going to be a special year for his Cascade Christian boys basketball team.
The ensuing days even surpassed his expectations, however, as his Challengers never wavered in support of their coach's intuition with inspired play on offense and defense.
And as if winning the school's first-ever state championship in boys basketball wasn't enough, Morse and crew found a little more glory to bask in on Wednesday after the release of the Class 2A all-state team.
Morse was named coach of the year and two of his players were also honored with all-state selections in voting by the state's coaches. Senior wing Josh Heidegger was named to the first team and senior guard Andrew Shipley to the second team after each played integral roles in leading the Challengers to a 25-4 record.
"We wouldn't have been able to do it without either one of those guys," said Morse, whose team beat cross-town rival St. Mary's 55-34 in the championship final.
St. Mary's senior guard Chris Sutton was a third-team selection, with Mike Woodard of Western Mennonite named 2A boys player of the year.
The Class 2A girls basketball all-state team has yet to be released.
Heidegger, who also helped lead the Challengers to the 2A football title in the fall, averaged 15.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 assists this past winter.
"He was the main cog in the wheel that made everything turn for our team," Morse said of the 6-3 wing. "He just made things happen for us. He's such a fierce competitor and lifts everybody up around him."
Shipley teamed with Heidegger to give Cascade Christian a solid 1-2 punch on offense. The 6-1 guard led the team with 16 points per game and averaged four assists and 3.5 steals.
"He took the pressure off everyone else because everybody would draw toward Heidegger and we needed that other scoring threat," said Morse. "He knocked down some huge shots for us, and proved he can be more than a 3-point shooter."
It was the sum of all the parts, however, that Morse said led to his honor as top coach.
"We've just got the greatest coaching staff at Cascade Christian, and we've got a pipeline full of great players," he said. "This senior class especially was not going to be denied this year. They were going to carry me no matter what."
The Challengers were first in scoring offense (56.7 ppg) and scoring defense (37.7) during their three-day run at the state tournament in Pendleton.
Player, School Yr.
Mike Woodard, Western Mennonite Sr.
Josh Heidegger, Cascade Christian Sr.
Elijah Monnes, Portland Christian Sr.
Kyle Gomez, Bonanza Sr.
Bryan Martin, Western Mennonite Sr.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Mike Woodard, Western Mennonite.
COACH OF THE YEAR — Brian Morse, Cascade Christian.
Alex Demaris, Monroe Sr.
Andrew Shipley, Cascade Christian Sr.
Ryan Isom, Knappa Sr.
Colt Haney, Union Sr.
Michael Kruesi, East Linn Christian Jr.
Kyle Guldager, Monroe Jr.
Andrew Young, Oakland Jr.
Scott Burris, Portland Lutheran Sr.
Nacho Elguezabel, Heppner Jr.
Chris Sutton, St. Mary's Sr.
HONORABLE MENTION — John Laidet, Bonanza, Sr.; Ryan Hood-Taylor, Scio, Sr.; Jesse Severson, Portland Christian, Sr.; Chad Hanson, Riddle, Sr.; Chris McManus, Central Linn, Sr.; Andrew Lutz, Blanchet, Sr.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org