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Cascade Christian thrives on Maurer power

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Challengers sophomore nets 36 to set tone against Brookings-Harbor

Quite literally the biggest player on the basketball court at 6-foot-11, Cascade Christian sophomore Austin Maurer also provided the biggest game of his promising career Friday night against Brookings-Harbor.

Maurer scored 12 of his team’s first 16 points, had 26 by halftime and, once again, fell just shy of a school record with 36 points as the third-ranked Challengers opened Far West League play with a 74-62 home victory.

“He was phenomenal,” said Cascade Christian head coach Brian Morse of Maurer. “He just was knocking down the shots and he was shooting with confidence, and when he’s playing like that we are really tough to beat.”

Maurer also finished with 10 rebounds and six blocks despite sitting out the final 3 1/2 minutes for the Challengers (9-3, 1-0 FWL).

Senior Cody Reece provided a steady complement with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals and sophomore Cannon Anderson had nine points off the bench.

Friday’s effort marked the third time in less than a month that Maurer has flirted with Cascade’s single-game record for scoring. He had 36 points in a win over Nyssa on Dec. 30, then returned to score 35 two nights later in a win over No. 4 Dayton.

Morse, Marty Maurer and Josh Heidegger each share the school record at 37.

“I’m very anxious for him to break that record,” the coach said. “I’m really anxious for that to happen, and I know it is inevitable. Records are set to be broken, and that’s a good thing.”

That Maurer has been so effective already for Cascade Christian is no surprise given his all-too familiar lineage for Challengers fans.

His grandfather, Andy Maurer, was a former NFL offensive linemen who played in two Super Bowls and founded the Cascade Christian football program.

His father, Marty, was one of the top football and basketball players to come out of Cascade and went on to become a featured piece at tight end in an Oregon State football revival that included a run to the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. That entire team was enshrined into OSU’s Hall of Fame this past fall.

Maybe lesser known to local fans, however, is the fact that his mother, Brandi (formerly Bonnarens), was an all-state volleyball player in her own right from Gresham who holds Oregon State’s single-season record with 1,589 assists as a senior setter in 2000 and also ranks second in Beavers history with 4,063 career assists.

“He’s a special player, he really is,” Morse said of the sophomore. “He just has so many gifts and the thing is he can handle the ball like a guard, he can shoot and he can drive and he can shoot 3s and he’s 6-11. I’ve had tons of players that were as gifted as him, but they weren’t 6-11. Now you take someone with all those gifts and he’s 6-11 and oh my goodness. It’s fun to watch, I can tell you that.”

What was also fun to watch was the unselfish nature of Maurer’s teammates, which included twin brother Peyton (four rebounds, three assists) and cousin Triston Wallace (five rebounds), and how they continued to create open looks for their offensive anchor.

“They do a good job, especially Cody, of sucking two defenders in and finding him when he’s open,” Morse said. “Obviously we want him to touch the ball on every play, but they didn’t really force anything and neither did he. I think Austin had maybe one shot that was kind of forced, other than that they were all shots you’d want someone to take.”

Maurer faced a stiff matchup against Bruins 6-foot-7 senior Brad Russell, who outweighed his opponent and operated well in the paint, but there was no doubt that’s where the Challengers’ offense was going to begin. The only thing that changed was how hot Maurer was from the outside early on, draining four of his six 3-pointers in the opening quarter to finish with 18 points overall as Cascade built a 28-12 advantage.

“We were going to try and go inside with him,” Morse said of Maurer, “but he kept popping out and knocked those 3s down and that changed everything. Once he started hitting 3s and getting those drives to the basket, it was just incredible. Once he gets hot, it’s kind of like having the NBA Jam (video game) cheat code.”

The Challengers finished 10-for-13 from the field in the opening frame and, despite allowing a season high in points, were never really threatened by the Bruins from that point on. Cascade held a double-digit lead for the final three quarters.

Russell finished with 21 points to pace Brookings-Harbor and freshman Jaren Fronckowiak added 18.

“I think that they are one of the top teams in our league — they could be the best team besides us, I don’t know,” Morse said. “We knew it would be a tough game but we did meet the challenge and we succeeded. It’s definitely going to be a battle when we have to face them at their place.”

What also expects to be a battle is Monday’s showdown with top-ranked Westside Christian as part of the MLK Showcase at Harrisburg High School. The Eagles (11-0) are coached by former Challengers player and assistant coach David Henry, who was part of Cascade’s 2007 championship squad.

“I love having great competitive nonleague games like this and that’s why I try to schedule them,” Morse said. “It gets the kids in that environment where it’s two of the best teams in the state, 2 versus 1 at least in terms of the (state power rankings). It’s going to be a great game. They have some really good horses. We’ve seen them play multiple times and they have a lot of skill out there.”

BROOKINGS-HARBOR (62): Christensen 2, Beaman 8, Green 0, Fronckowiak 18, Harms 2, Cortez 1, Orman 5, Serna 5, Russell 21 Totals: 26 8-15 62.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (74): Reece 14, Anderson 9, Wallace 4, P. Maurer 3, Hess 0, Sample 0, Hoffman 3, A. Maurer 36, Nering 2, Goldade 0, Westlake 0, Richardson 3. Totals: 23 20-27 74.

Brookings-Harbor12141719— 62

Cascade Christian28131419— 74

3-point goals — Brookings-Harbor 2 (Orman 1, Russell 1), Cascade Christian 7 (A. Maurer 6, Anderson 1). Fouled out — Russell, Serna.

Have a story idea? Reach sports editor Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Austin Maurer shoots for two points during the second quarter of Friday night’s game against Brookings-Harbor.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Cody Reece drives to the basket during the first quarter of Friday night’s game against Brookings-Harbor.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Peyton Maurer forces a turnover during the first quarter of Friday night’s game against Brookings-Harbor.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Austin Maurer dunks the ball during the first quarter of Friday night’s game against Brookings-Harbor.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Peyton Maurer gets the ball away from Brookings-Harbor's Jeremy Green during the second quarter of Friday night’s game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Austin Maurer shoots for two points during the second quarter of Friday night’s game against Brookings-Harbor.