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Cascade Christian advances to 3A final

Reece nears triple-double as Challengers upset No. 1 Westside Christian

Buoyed by senior point guard Cody Reece’s indomitable spirit, fourth-seeded Cascade Christian was able to put No. 1 Westside Christian on its heels early and then come through in the clutch Friday afternoon to score a 56-51 upset in the semifinals at the Class 3A boys basketball state tournament.

The 5-foot-10 Reece neared a triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to go with his three steals to propel the Challengers into their third straight 3A championship game.

“He’s the most fierce competitor I’ve ever had and he just refuses to lose,” said Cascade Christian coach Brian Morse of Reece. “I know those are all cliches, but it’s so true. He finds a way to keep us in the ballgame, and the ball was in his hands probably 75-80% of the time offensively and he just made some incredible plays.”

“Good things happen when the ball is in his hands,” added the coach, “because I know he’s going to find Austin (Maurer) or he’s going to make a play for somebody. He carried us today. Even though he wasn’t our leading scorer, he carried us. He was our player of the game, for sure.”

Sophomore post Austin Maurer contributed 23 points and 11 rebounds and Peyton Maurer had seven points and four boards for Cascade Christian (22-5), which will next face No. 2 seed De La Salle North Catholic at 5:45 p.m. today in the title game at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay.

De La Salle North Catholic beat No. 3 Dayton, 56-40, in Friday’s other semifinal. The Knights (24-2) most recently won 3A titles in 2018 and 2019 after finishing as runner-up in 2016 and 2017

“I am extremely proud of this team,” said Morse, whose Challengers won a 3A title in 2009 and 2A title in 2007 to go with recent runner-up showings. “For how hard they played last night in the first half to put it out of reach early (in the state quarterfinal against Umatilla) and then to come back and play with that same intensity — and to raise it up to the next level even — I am just so proud of them.”

The Challengers held a 14-13 lead through one quarter and was up 33-27 at the break, holding the explosive Eagles without a 3-pointer in the first half while getting key shots of their own from beyond the arc by Triston Wallace and Peyton Maurer.

Cascade Christian seemed to have all the right momentum until the waning seconds of the third quarter, when Westside Christian forced a turnover and 6-foot-4 senior Jaymeson Ye connected on a shot from just inside halfcourt at the buzzer.

Suddenly, the Challengers only had a 47-42 lead entering the final quarter, and within an instant even that was gone when Ye converted a three-point play only 41 seconds into the fourth to tie the game at 47-all.

Ye finished with 23 points to stand as the Eagles’ lone double-digit scorer.

“At that point everyone is down,” said Morse, “but we just told them, ‘OK, next play.’ That’s something we as coaches talk about with our players all the time. Everyone’s going to make mistakes and it’s what you do when you make that mistake. You need to block it out and just go next play. There’s so many possessions in a game and you can’t dwell on one.”

The Challengers took heed of that advice and responded with their own clutch efforts. After a drive by Reece missed the mark, the senior was able to grab the rebound and ultimately find Austin Maurer for a 3-point attempt. Landon Hess tracked down the miss on that shot but the ball immediately found its way back in the 6-foot-11 standout’s hands from Reece and this time he was pure from the same position to break the tie.

“I was a little shocked when he missed it the first time,” said Morse, “but we got the rebound and kicked it right back out to him and he was in the same spot and I was like, ‘Oh, he’s not missing two in a row from there.’”

Moments later, Reece stole an inbounds pass and tipped in his own driving effort for a 52-47 lead that seemed to shake the Eagles, who were a little out of sync for much of the game against the Challengers.

“They’re so tremendously talented and well-coached but it put them to where they were starting to panic suddenly down five,” said Morse. “You play a No. 1 team like that, that doesn’t lose a lot, they’re not in that situation a lot, and all of a sudden they’re down five and maybe start playing a little hero ball.”

Consecutive baskets by Justice Jackson, who had eight points and 10 boards, allowed Westside Christian to pull within one point at 52-51 with 2:23 to go, but that’s when Reece really put the game in his own hands. The senior converted four straight from the foul line down the stretch when it mattered and included another key rebound to seal the deal.

“We also have a 6-11 guy and he had a good game with 11 rebounds, but Cody goes for 12 (rebounds) and he’s our shortest guy out there,” said Morse of the point guard’s extra efforts. “He wasn’t waiting for anybody to get it, he just went and grabbed them. He was an animal out there and it was so fun to watch.”

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (22-5)

Austin Maurer 8-12 5-7 23, Cody Reece 5-16 8-9 18, Peyton Maurer 3-10 0-0 7, Triston Wallace 2-5 0-0 5, Cannon Anderson 1-6 1-3 3, Bryley Richardson 0-0 0-0 0, Kellan Kleker 0-0 0-0 0, Landon Hess 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-49 14-19 56.

WESTSIDE CHRISTIAN (24-3)

Jaymeson Ye 8-17 6-7 23, Justice Jackson 3-6 2-3 8, Jake Hergert 3-10 0-0 6, Eli Lerman 2-5 0-0 5, Kamir Hodge 2-13 0-1 4, Jamison Poindexter 1-2 0-0 3, Blake Reinholtz 1-1 0-0 2, Dax Hanzlik 0-0 0-0 0, Will Ficker 0-1 0-0 0, Carson Snodgrass 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-56 8-11 51.

Cascade Christian1419149— 56

Westside Christian1314159— 51

3-point goals—Cascade Christian 4-15 (Austin Maurer 2-4, Peyton Maurer 1-4, Triston Wallace 1-1, Cannon Anderson 0-3, Cody Reece 0-3), Westside Christian 3-16 (Jamison Poindexter 1-2, Eli Lerman 1-2, Jaymeson Ye 1-2, Kamir Hodge 0-3, Carson Snodgrass 0-1, Jake Hergert 0-4, Justice Jackson 0-2). Fouled out—Cascade Christian-None, Westside Christian-Kamir Hodge. Rebounds—Cascade Christian 42 (Cody Reece 12), Westside Christian 32 (Justice Jackson 10). Assists—Cascade Christian 9 (Cody Reece 8), Westside Christian 6 (Jake Hergert 3). Total fouls—Cascade Christian 14, Westside Christian 19.

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

Cascade Christian senior Cody Reece, shown in action earlier this season, had 18 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in Friday's win over Westside Christian. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune