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Phoenix wins 4A state

CORVALLIS — It jumped, and danced and screamed at the top of its lungs.

Alex Young marveled at the mass of humanity, but instead of letting the Phoenix student section swallow him whole, the junior point guard joined the reveling village of fans at a cautious angle.

"Me? I'm trying to be smart. I ran around the back so I didn't get trampled or anything," Young said as a smile sprinted across his face. "Then I came in and joined the fun."

There was plenty to celebrate.

Young, who had 15 points, and the sixth-ranked Pirates defeated seventh-ranked Cottage Grove 59-44 in the Class 4A state championship game at Gill Coliseum on Saturday.

Phoenix fell to Yamhill-Carlton in a championship contest in 1992. Last season, the Pirates came up short against La Grande in the semifinals.

But against the Lions, Phoenix made all that seem like ancient history.

"These kids have earned it all year long," said Phoenix head coach Glenn Johannes, who pushed his young squad to a fifth-place finish in 2010. "They endured some tough losses, but we knew they would pay dividends and we are just so fortunate that everything went our way this game."

Phoenix's Alex Hobson authored an unforgettable performance, pouring in 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter and finishing 7-for-7 at the charity stripe. The senior guard played a key defensive role and turned in four blocks for the Pirates, who led by 11 points at halftime after pushing through a wild back-and-forth first quarter.

Phoenix — methodical on offense and dogged on defense in their fifth straight win — piled on 15 more points in the third to pull away.

"This is one of the biggest moments of my life," Hobson said. "To come out here and play one of the best games of my life, it is a really emotional night. It's my last night playing competitive basketball."

Young also played his position masterfully, wielding the ball like a yo-yo while threading passes to teammates and slicing through the Lions' defense.

"Once we built the lead, we just tried to pull it out, look for good looks, be patient, and it worked," Young said.

After a close first quarter that saw eight lead changes, the Pirates took over against Cottage Grove, which upset Skyline Conference champion Mazama in the semifinals to earn its title shot.

Luke Brown muscled in six points during a 13-4 run by Phoenix to end the second quarter, and Tyler Dungannon scored six of his 12 points in the third period.

Dungannon, a junior guard, sank a 3-pointer with 1:10 to go in the third to put Phoenix ahead by 15. The Lions missed their first five shots and struggled to even get offensive opportunities in the quarter.

On the night, the Pirates (23-6) shot 45.2 percent from the field (19-for-42) and went 15-for-21 at the free-throw line, helping them seal the winning deal as Cottage Grove tried desperately to rally.

Brown, whom Johannes praised for his defensive effort, finished with nine points, and Young added six assists in the victory.

Shane Maddess led Cottage Grove (24-4) with 15 points, but scored just three in the second half with Hobson defending him tough. Dustin Hurd added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

"We wanted to hold teams to under 50 and we did that all tournament," Johannes said.

All the while, Phoenix's supporters made their presence known. Phoenix Athletics Director Tony Testerman estimated that 93 students made the trip on two rooter buses, and an additional 25 students joined them on Friday. They filled the north entrance to the arena before the game started and were active throughout the game.

After the final seconds trickled off the clock, Calvin Loper enthusiastically volunteered himself to the sea of fans that formed underneath a hoop. Several of his teammates quickly followed him in, but Young played it safe. He handed off his medal to Johannes, found a spot to squeeze in and joined the party.

"I just wanted to make sure I didn't lose it," Young said of the medal.

"That's gonna be some valuable stuff in some years to come. I will never forget this moment."

COTTAGE GROVE (44) — Maddess 15, Hurd 12, Shepherd 7, Morales 6, Rothermund 4, Miller 0, Toureen 0, Nowak 0, Gray 0, Dieke 0, Bruce, Stetson 0. Totals 18-48 3-8 44.

PHOENIX (59) — Hobson 18, Young 15, Dungannon 12, Brown 9, Bohn 2, Richardson 2, Keith 1, Loper 0, Keith 0, Campoy 0. Totals 19-42 15-21 59.

Cottage Grove 16 8 11 9 — 44

Phoenix 20 15 15 9 — 59

3-point goals — Cottage Grove 5 (Maddess 3, Morales 2), Phoenix 6 (Young 4, Dungannon 1, Hobson 1). Technical foul — Hurd.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail djones@mailtribune.com

Phoenix players celebrate with the Class 4A state championship trophy after defeating Cottage Grove on Friday. - Peter Strong