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Challengers finish strong, take fourth

COOS BAY — Joel McLemore scored 18 of his game-high 24 points after the break to lead a second-half surge that gave the Challengers a 54-45 victory over Irrigon and with it the fourth-place trophy on the final day of the OSAA Class 3A boys basketball tournament Saturday at Marshfield High School.

The strong finish was indicative of the Challengers’ overall tournament experience, as the sixth seeds rebounded from a gut-wrenching quarterfinal loss to Santiam Christian to beat Oregon Episcopal and Irrigon on successive days and claim the program’s eighth state trophy and fourth since 2013.

McLemore went 5-for-11 from the field, 6-for-7 from the free throw line and grabbed four of his seven rebounds in the second half. He was at his best in the third, scoring 10 points to help the Challengers take control.

Cascade Christian, which finished 20-10 on the year, hit four 3-pointers and scored 12 second-chance points in the quarter to turn a one-point deficit into a 10-point lead.

“We were lucky to only be down one at halftime because it was one of our worst first halves,” Cascade Christian head coach Brian Morse said. “So I challenged them at halftime to try to get their energy up and toughness up and do the things that got us here, and they did. That third quarter we just came out on fire.”

Besides McLemore, Ben Dunn had six points and 11 rebounds, Tyler Cochran 10 points and Kyle Reece seven points and four boards for the Challengers, who placed fifth last year.

Eric Carillo scored 13 points, Johnny Phillips had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Keith Fleming seven points and 10 boards for Irrigon (22-6), which won the Eastern Oregon League champion.

The Southern Cascade League-champion Challengers trailed 19-18 at the half, but McLemore hit a 3-pointer 37 seconds into the third quarter, Reece followed with another 3 and they never trailed again.

Another jumper by Reece capped a 12-2 run that gave the Challengers a 30-21 lead and later, after the Knights battled back to within five, Cascade Christian finished the quarter with a 6-1 flurry to make it 41-31 heading into the fourth.

Irrigon was still within striking distance, down 12 following a free throw by Johnny Phillips with 5:27 to go, but a free throw by McLemore and three more by Cochran made it 48-32 and all that was left for the Challengers was the celebration.

“They wanted to finish better than last year, so they were excited,” Morse said. “I told the guys, only three teams (at the state tournament) end the season with a win, so they have a lot to be proud of.”

IRRIGON (22-6)

Eric Carillo 5-8 1-3 13, Johnny Phillips 5-9 2-4 12, Keith Fleming 3-9 1-4 7, Lino Covarrubia 2-2 0-0 5, Abe Gomez 1-3 2-2 4, Adrian Roa 1-4 2-3 4, Jesus Sandoval 0-1 0-0 0, Payton Holcomb 0-0 0-0 0, Daniel Vera 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 17-40 8-16 45.


Joel McLemore 7-20 8-11 24, Tyler Cochran 3-8 3-3 10, Kyle Reece 2-4 2-4 7, Ben Dunn 3-7 0-2 6, Haiden Schaan 2-4 1-2 5, C. Alatorre 0-0 2-6 2, Riley Dexter 0-0 0-0 0, Layne Collom 0-0 0-0 0, Donminic Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Jack West 0-0 0-0 0, Kiegan Schaan 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Crowl 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-43 16-28 54.


Cascade Christian;7;11;23;13;—;54

3-point goals — Irrigon 3-13 (Eric Carillo 2-5, Lino Covarrubia 1-1, Keith Fleming 0-2, Adrian Roa 0-2, Jesus Sandoval 0-1, Daniel Vera 0-2), Cascade Christian 4-11 (Joel McLemore 2-6, Kyle Reece 1-1, Tyler Cochran 1-3, Ben Dunn 0-1). Fouled out — Irrigon-Abe Gomez. Rebounds — Irrigon 28 (Johnny Phillips 10, Keith Fleming 10), Cascade Christian 32 (Ben Dunn 11). Assists — Irrigon 9 (Adrian Roa 5), Cascade Christian 10 (Tyler Cochran 2, Joel McLemore 2, Ben Dunn 2, Haiden Schaan 2). Total fouls — Irrigon 24, Cascade Christian 18. Technical fouls — none.