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Cascade Christian earns 3A tourney berth

If Cascade Christian were to advance to the Class 3A boys basketball state tournament, it was pretty clear it was going to take all hands on deck Saturday evening against Coquille at Cascade Christian High.

The visiting Red Devils came into the game as a No. 11 seed but that was more by happenstance than overall talent, and the sixth-seeded Challengers certainly knew the task at hand in the opening round of the 3A state playoffs.

Behind an all-out effort on defense — especially in rebounding — and a versatile scoring attack that saw four players reach double figures, Cascade Christian was able to withstand the challenge put forth by Coquille and gradually pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 58-49 triumph and berth in the upcoming 3A state tourney.

The Challengers (18-9), who placed fifth last year, will open tournament play at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against No. 3 seed Santiam Christian at Marshfield High in Coos Bay. Santiam Christian beat Salem Academy 72-61 in other playoff action Saturday.

“This feels awesome,” said Challengers senior Ben Dunn. “Our freshman and sophomore year we got knocked out (in the state playoffs) but in these last two years we’ve made it (to the state tournament) and it’s just a blessing with all these seniors and all my brothers.”

Dunn led the charge for Cascade Christian with 16 points and four rebounds but received plenty of help from seniors Kyle Reece (12 points, seven rebounds), Tyler Cochran (11 points, nine rebounds, six assists) and Joel McLemore (11 points, three rebounds, three assists).

“We work together to make it happen,” added Dunn. “It’s not just one person doing everything, we have a lot of guys who contribute. We just played as a team tonight and moved the ball and we got back on defense, that was a big thing we preached all week.”

All of that preaching by Challengers head coach Brian Morse and his staff was for good reason. Coquille (23-4) came into the game as a lower seed solely on the basis of losing a Mountain Valley Conference playoff game against Creswell one week ago. The Red Devils were ranked eighth in the final Class 3A state power rankings, while Cascade Christian was sixth.

“We’ve had some ups and downs this year and they really came in dialed in and they knew everything to do against them scouting-wise,” said Morse of his Challengers, who were the only team to beat Coquille twice this year. “They played with a lot of heart and they played real aggressive, they were just solid all the way through.”

The Southern Cascade League champions were able to build a 31-25 edge at halftime behind 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range, with Reece and Dunn each knocking down a pair of treys to tally eight points apiece while McLemore tallied nine points.

A slow start to the third quarter that included an 0-for-7 start from beyond the arc put a dent into Cascade Christian’s shooting totals but Dunn snapped that drought with a key 3-pointer in the final minute that allowed his team to take a 38-33 lead into the final quarter.

“We didn’t come out good at the start of the third quarter,” admitted Dunn of the seven-point frame, “but after that we just turned it on and came together.”

It was 43-39 with four minutes to play when senior reserve forward Haiden Schaan calmly stepped into a 15-foot jumper that found nothing but net and, after a Coquille miss, he was the recipient of a nice assist by Cochran for another basket.

“They all really played great,” said Morse, “but nothing was probably bigger than when Haiden Schaan came in off the bench and had two big baskets in a row. It was a four-point game at that point and that made a big difference.”

If that wasn’t a game-changer, it was Cochran’s steal and resulting layup a moment later that pushed the Challengers’ lead to 49-39 with 2½ minutes to play. After that it became a free-throw shooting extravaganza as Coquille tried to extend the game as much as possible, but the Challengers did just enough to maintain their edge to claim the playoff win.

“They shot lights out from the 3-point line and they outrebounded us, that was the big thing,” said Coquille head coach Willy Layton. “They made big shots and we just couldn’t get any stops.”

Seth Waddington had 23 points and five rebounds and fellow senior Henry Scolari added 16 points and five rebounds to lead Coquille, which was 20-for-56 from the field but only 3-for-21 from 3-point range.

Schaan and Cristian Flores Alatorre battled hard on the blocks to limit 6-foot-6 Coquille junior Hayden Davis to only one field goal and one rebound, while six Challengers pulled in at least three rebounds to win a critical part of the contest.

“I think we did a pretty good job on defense tonight,” said Dunn, “but rebounding was a big key tonight for us.”

Morse certainly agreed.

“I was inspired by all that extra hustle and coming up with those 50-50 balls,” said the coach, whose team hasn’t lost a first-round state playoff game at home since 2006. “It seemed like we came up with most of them.”

COQUILLE (49): Davis 2, Kistner 0, Waddington 23, Gederos 5, Scolari 16, E. Smith 3, Deck 0. Totals: 20-56 6-9 49.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (58): Reece 12, Dunn 16, H. Schaan 6, K. Schaan 0, Cochran 11, McLemore 11, Dexter 0, Flores Alatorre 2. Totals: 19-48 13-19 58.


Cascade Christian;17;14;7;20;—;58

3-point goals — Coquille 3-21 (Gederos 1, Scolari 1, E. Smith 1), Cascade Christian 7-18 (Dunn 3, Reece 2, Cochran 1, McLemore 1).

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry


Cascade Christian senior Kyle Reece drives downcourt after a turnover during the second quarter against Coquille on Saturday. [ANDY ATKINSON/MAIL TRIBUNE]
Cascade Christian senior Joel McLemore pull up for a shot during the second quarter. [ANDY ATKINSON/MAIL TRIBUNE]