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Challengers rout Pirates

For the second straight night, all-state forward Scott Morse scored as many points as the opposition in the Cascade Christian Wachovia Christmas Classic basketball tournament.

Against Phoenix on Friday night, Cascade Christian jumped out to a 15-0 lead and cruised to a 42-17 victory in the second round of the re-shuffled three-day tournament at the Pavilion on the Challengers' campus.

Morse, who has accepted a full basketball scholarship to NAIA Division I California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif., tallied a game-high 17 points against the Pirates. The night before, Morse's 28 points matched Burns' total in the Challengers' 66-28 tournament victory.

The event schedule had to be altered because some schools could not participate in the opening round due to inclement weather that forced cancellation of classes on Thursday.

Class 3A top-ranked Cascade Christian (4-1) and 4A Phoenix (4-3) presented a story in contrasts.

While the Challengers return key contributors Morse, Jarrod Hess and Ben Joffer off last year's third-place team at state, Phoenix does not have one returning player on the varsity roster from its 2008 Class 4A state tournament squad.

Phoenix came out in a 2-3 matchup zone, which presented little difficulty for the versatile Challengers, while Cascade's tight man-to-man pressure made it difficult for the Pirates to get off a quality shot.

And while the Challengers' best player, the 6-foot-7 Morse, added seven rebounds and two blocks to his game-high point total, Phoenix's leading scorer, 6-4 junior Skyler Reagan, was absent because of a family vacation.

Additionally, the lanky Morse drew the defensive assignment on 5-8 freshman point guard Alex Young, who was making his first varsity start. Phoenix coach Brian Miller commented that Morse presented a formidable challenge for the inexperienced Young.

"The defense we saw from them took us out of some things," Miller said. "We know we have a hard time scoring. They came out and pressured us. We didn't handle it as well as we could have."

After Joffer, a 6-0 junior, connected for a 3-pointer to open the scoring, the Challengers forced three turnovers that fueled the early run. Joffer accounted for seven points and Morse had five of the 15.

"I wanted to come out and have a good start and get us fired up as best as I could," Joffer said. "We definitely wanted to focus on defense. We want to be the strongest defensive team out there because that will help us down the stretch."

Morse, who had 11 points at halftime, said he guarded Young because: "He looked like their biggest threat. We wanted to make it rough for them to get into their offense."

Cascade Christian coach Brian Morse, Scott's dad, said his son sets a defensive tone by sometimes guarding the other team's point guard.

After putting themselves in a big deficit early, the Pirates settled down. Sophomore Kyle Treadway came off the bench to score the Pirates' first points with 2:17 remaining and fueled a 6-0 run to end the opening period.

The closest Phoenix would get from there was 19-11 on Young's trey with 2:43 left before halftime. But two 3-pointers by Morse sandwiched around a Colton Cochran 15-foot jumper bumped the lead to 27-11 at the break.

"We were moving the ball well against their zone," coach Morse said. "One great thing about our team is we have so many different weapons."

The Cascade coach instructed his team to take a little different approach in the second half.

"We tried to emphasize going down low," coach Morse said. "We wanted to get the ball inside because we had a good size advantage."

After consecutive fourth-quarter steals led to layups by Joffer and Scott Morse, and a 42-13 bulge with 5:20 remaining in the game, the Cascade coach took out his starters.

Phoenix's Miller knew from the outset his inexperienced squad was in for a difficult night. In his opinion, the rest of the Skyline Conference would also struggle against the Challengers.

"This team (Cascade Christian) could probably win our league," Miller said bluntly.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (42) — Siliga 0, Morse 17, Hutley 1, Hess 4, Litton 0, Hoffman 0, Joffer 10, Thomas 0, Rasmussen 0, Pech 1, Cochran 9. Totals: 17-40 4-11 42.

PHOENIX (17) — Campoy 0, Crichton 0, Damon 0, Hendricks 0, Ralls 0, Sauceda 0, Talley 1, Lapat 4, Treadway 7, Young 5. Totals: 6 4-11 17.

Cascade Christian 15 12 7 8 — 42

Phoenix 6 5 2 4 — 17

3-point goals — Cascade Christian 4 (Morse 3, Joffer 1), Phoenix 1 (Young 1).

Cascade Christian's Jerrod Hess defends against Phoenix's Dom Ralls during Friday's Wachovia Christmas Classic game at The Pavilion.