A curtain separates two basketball courts in the gymnasium at Cascade Christian High. If it's a packed house, it can be raised and aluminum overflow bleachers can be rolled in.
After his team won on Friday to set the stage for an elimination game Wednesday, boys head coach Brian Morse uttered three words: Raise the curtain.
The Challengers downed Lakeview, 57-27, at Cascade Christian High to set the stage for a do-or-die contest with cross-town rival St. Mary's.
"This next game will probably be one of the biggest high school games we'll play," senior Jason Wyncoop said.
Cascade Christian and the Crusaders finished in a three-way tie with Rogue River for first place in the Southern Cascade League with their triumphs on Friday. All three of those teams split their regular-season series, but the Chieftains (15-8, 6-2 SCL) avoided the elimination-game scenario because their point differential was best (the SCL uses the Azzie points-based system in such situations).
The victor of the St. Mary's-Challenger contest will visit Rogue River in next Saturday's state-playoff seeding game.
With all that understood, Cascade Christian (15-9, 6-2) went to work against the Honkers (7-15, 2-6).
Junior Brandon Winter recorded 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the Challengers, who needed a win of five points or more to clinch the No. 2 designation and opportunity to host St. Mary's (16-7, 6-2) in the 7 p.m. elimination game. The Crusaders did their part on Friday by beating Illinois Valley, 87-31.
Winter didn't let the complicated scenarios bog him down.
"I was just playing for the seniors tonight, really," he said. "Giving it my all for them."
Wyncoop had 13 points and 10 rebounds, plus an emphatic block that saw the ball sail into the student section, and Christian Kammerzell added 10 points for Cascade Christian, which will play its fourth game in five games today when it travels to undefeated Class 4A powerhouse North Bend (18-0) at 3.
The Challengers jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter against Lakeview, but showed some fatigue as they stumbled out of the gate in the second, missing their first six attempts and turning the ball over. A jumper by Jack Graham cut Lakeview's deficit to three points with two minutes remaining before halftime.
"It's kind of funny," Lakeview head coach Jamison Anderson said. "We've been kind of a second-quarter team this last half of the season. I wish they would play all four quarters like that. If they could do that — geez, man — we'd be right in there."
Cascade Christian — which only attempted two free throws in the victory — slammed the door in the third with a 10-0 run to open the quarter. The home team led 41-22 entering the final frame.
"We kind of played in spurts," Morse said. "We were lethargic after the start of the first quarter. I kind of credit that to three games in four days. ... They did enough to get a good cushion (later)."
The house was packed last Tuesday when the Challengers hosted St. Mary's. Morse expects even more rooting fans in their third meeting.
"That was on a Tuesday night when North (Medford) and South (Medford) were playing, and everybody else," Morse said. "Wednesday night, it's the only show in town, and it should be even more packed."
LAKEVIEW (27) — Harlan 2, Graham 4, Frank 4, Forbes 5, Lampman 3, Hamilton 9, Thorsted 0. Totals: 11 4-9 27.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (57) — Palmer 1, Kammerzell 10, Wager 4, Morse 0, Booker 0, Wyncoop 13, Horton 5, Cochran 4, Winter 20. Totals: 26 1-2 57.
3-point goals — Lakeview 1 (Lampman 1), Cascade Christian 4 (Wyncoop 3, Horton 1).
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt