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Reece to the rescue in Cascade’s win over St. Mary’s

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For a team ranked No. 2 at the Class 3A level that got off to a 10-0 start, it shouldn’t have been as hard as it was for Cascade Christian to earn a home victory Friday night.

Then again, that’s what crosstown rivalries are all about.

Unranked St. Mary’s battled back from extreme adversity, which included the ejection of head coach Kyle Walker in the second quarter, to put a scare into the Challengers deep into the Far West League showdown.

In the end, though, it was senior Cody Reece who remained steadfast throughout to help propel Cascade Christian to a 52-47 triumph.

Reece knocked down three first-quarter 3-pointers as St. Mary’s focused most of its attention — and rightfully so — on sophomore sensation Austin Maurer and finished with five treys and 23 points for the Challengers (12-4, 4-0 FWL).

Whether it was a basket, rebound or steal, Reece came up clutch time and again to help his team escape an upset bid by the Crusaders. He totaled six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

“He absolutely saved the day,” Cascade Christian coach Brian Morse said. “Cody Reece really stepped up and showed some incredible senior leadership. He was knocking down the open 3s and he was just making basketball plays all over the court. He was offensively and defensively in on just about everything.”

Against the zone pressure by St. Mary’s, Maurer found little room to roam against the physical Crusaders, but the 6-foot-11 center still managed 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.

For St. Mary’s (5-10, 1-3), Kayden Walker led the way with 18 points and Eli Haynes added 11 to spur its comeback effort.

“You throw the records out the window and rankings and all that stuff,” Morse said of the all-Medford matchup. “(St. Mary’s) played with a lot of heart and a lot of aggressiveness and they came up with more 50-50 balls than we did, which is something I wasn’t too happy about.”

The game took a wild turn midway through a second quarter that saw St. Mary’s finally show signs off life after falling behind 18-6. Shots from beyond the arc by Travis Johnson and Noah Friesen sandwiched a transition basket by Kayden Walker to bring the Crusaders within four points.

Cascade Christian answered with baskets in the paint by Triston Wallace and Reece, and then coach Walker was assessed a technical foul, resulting in a 1-for-2 effort from the line by Reece. Seconds later, the coach stood up from his chair to advise his players — an action coaches cannot do after a technical foul. Despite a warning from officials to sit down, he remained standing and then was tagged with a second technical foul and ejected from the game.

To the Crusaders’ credit, they did not skip a beat afterward and actually closed the gap to 26-20 before Reece closed the first half with a traditional 3-point play to finish with 16 points in the opening 16 minutes.

“He just does big things for us and tonight was no exception,” Morse said of Reece. “He was our emotional spark plug in the locker room and the huddles and he was refusing to let our team lose.”

The Challengers then turned that 29-20 halftime lead into what looked like may become a runaway with a 9-3 surge out of the locker room highlighted by 3-pointers by Maurer and Reece.

Instead of giving in, however, St. Mary’s rallied under the direction of assistant coach Luke DeCoste and closed the third quarter on a 12-1 run on baskets by five different players.

Friesen started the surge with a pull-up jumper, Haynes had two free throws and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions and Walker drained a 3 to force a Challengers timeout. Reece then broke the drought for Cascade with one free throw before Tyson Delplanche closed the quarter with a tough shot at the buzzer to leave St. Mary’s down only 44-38.

“They came right back and fought back and made it a real game,” Morse said of the Crusaders. “We didn’t put a nail in their heart so that was our fault for letting them get back in the game. They never stopped; I was impressed with how hard they played. It was a fun atmosphere.”

With Maurer on and off the court due to an ankle injury sustained in the third quarter, Reece broke the ice for Cascade in the fourth with a 3-pointer and freshman Bryley Richardson came through with his second trey of the game to give the Challengers a 50-42 cushion.

Walker later added a 3-pointer but Cascade was able to stretch out the Crusader defense to run down the clock before St. Mary’s was able to foul enough to put the Challengers on the free-throw line. Facing a 1-and-1 with 27 seconds to go at 50-45, Wallace missed the first foul shot but Reece soared over 6-foot-3 junior Jaden Foster for a big rebound.

“He jumps up over Foster and rips the ball away from him and it was like, ‘Wow!,’” Morse said. “He just played a great game and he saved the day for us. We all looked to him when they did a great job on Austin and he came through.”

Maurer was later fouled after Cascade got the ball back and hit both of his free throws with 17.6 seconds to go to essentially lock up the victory.

ST. MARY’S (47): Friesen 5, Walker 18, Haynes 11, Delplanche 6, Patel 0, Foster 2, Johnson 5. Totals: 16 8-12 47.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (52): Reece 23, Wallace 5, P. Maurer 0, Hess 3, A. Maurer 13, Nering 2, Westlake 0, Kleker 0, Richardson 6. Totals: 17 9-14 52.

St. Mary’s614189— 47

Cascade Christian1514158— 52

3-point goals — St. Mary’s 7 (Friesen 1, Walker 3, Haynes 2, Johnson 1), Cascade Christian 9 (Reece 5, Hess 1, A. Maurer 1, Richardson 2). Technical foul — St. Mary’s coach Walker 2.

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

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Cascade Christian's Cody Reece shoots a 3-pointer during the third quarter of Friday night’s game against St. Mary’s.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Cascade Christian's Daniel Nering blocks the shot of St Mary’s Kayden Walker during the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Cascade Christian's Austin Maurer blocks a shot during the second quarter of Friday night’s game against St. Mary’s.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Cascade Christian's Daniel Nering (50) and Peyton Maurer fight for the rebound over St Mary’s Eli Haynes during the second quarter of Friday night’s game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Cascade Christian's Austin Maurer steals the ball during the second quarter of Friday night’s game against St. Mary’s.