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Maurer takes top 3A honor

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Cascade Christian sophomore named state player of the year; Reece joins on first team

At 6-foot-11, it’s only natural for Cascade Christian sophomore Austin Maurer to stand above the rest.

So it’s only fitting that, in a way, said theme rang true when it came to figuring out the best of the best in Class 3A boys basketball this season.

Maurer, fresh off a big showing at the 3A state tournament in Coos Bay, was the unanimous pick as the state player of the year in a recent vote by the 3A coaches.

Maurer’s teammate, senior point guard Cody Reece, was also one of the top vote getters in earning his first-team all-state selection to give the Challengers one last piece of recognition following their state title run this winter.

“It was very applicable that they were first and third in the voting because it showed how good we were as a team,’’ said Cascade Christian head coach Brian Morse of Maurer and Reece. “At the state tournament, Austin definitely showed he’s the best player in 3A, but Cody Reece showed everyone how important to our team he is. He’s such a great competitor and a ferocious defender.

“The biggest thing about those two players is that I definitely talked them up to other coaches and they backed it up. The bigger the game, the bigger the moment, the better they played.”

To put a cherry on top, Morse was named the 3A boys basketball coach of the year, the third time the Challengers’ longtime coach has earned the honor.

Maurer is the first Cascade Christian player to win the state player of the year award since Scott Morse earned the honor in 2009 — which was the Challengers’ last state title-winning season before this year.

Maurer’s list of accomplishments, individually and in leading the Challengers, is a lengthy one.

The Far West League’s player of the year averaged 24 points, 12.3 rebounds and four blocks per game this season, leading the Challengers to a 23-5 record. He shot 56% from the field and set the Cascade Christian single-game scoring record with 41 points in a Feb. 11 loss to Douglas.

At the state tournament, Maurer averaged a double-double as the leading scorer at 24.3 points per game to go with 13.3 rebounds.

In four games against the other three top teams in Class 3A — De La Salle North Catholic, Westside Christian and Dayton — Maurer averaged 30 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks.

“The big thing about Austin is that against the top ranked teams in 3A, the cream definitely rises to the top,” said Morse. “So far in his career that I’ve watched and coached him the last two years, the bigger the game, the better he plays. He rises to the challenge and he’s just a big-time player. He does really well when the game’s on the line and he really comes through.

“I haven’t seen him fail yet. Some players have bad quarters or bad games, but he’s stepped up.”

For Reece, making the all-state team is something that he set out to do as a freshman. The other two? Make the all-league team and win a state championship, which he can also check off the list to cap a thrilling senior season.

Reece was the lone senior on the Challengers’ roster and only player from his class during his four-year career. He averaged 14 points, five assists, 4.5 rebounds and three steals per game.

Described as the Challengers’ heart and soul and unquestioned leader on and off the court, Reece — who had previously played in state title games in 2020 and 2021 — was the fifth-leading scorer at the 3A tournament, averaging 14.3 points. He also dished out a tournament-best 20 assists and averaged 6.7 rebounds.

Both Maurer and Reece were first-team all-tournament selections at state.

“He’s the most fierce competitor I’ve ever had,” said Morse of Reece. “I’ve had a lot of point guards over the years play at state and nobody has risen to the occasion like he has. He willed us to victory, and it was really exciting to see the kids respond to him. Austin, for how great he played, Cody willed those guys to victory.”

3A All-STATE BASKETBALL

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Austin Maurer, So., Cascade Christian.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Brian Morse, Cascade Christian.

FIRST TEAM

Austin Maurer, So., Cascade Christian; Cody Reece, Sr., Cascade Christian; Jaymeson Ye, Sr., Westside Christian; TJ Latu, So., De La Salle North Catholic; Mathias Billings, Sr., De La Salle North Catholic; Benji Hudson, Sr, Dayton.

SECOND TEAM

Tyler Spink, Sr., Dayton; Kamir Hodge, Sr., Westside Christian; John Wolfe, Sr., Vale; Jackson Risinger, Sr., Santiam Christian; Braedyn Cantrell, Sr., Pleasant Hill.

THIRD TEAM

Cohen Haller, So., Willamina; Oscar Campos, Sr., Umatilla; Jake Hergert, Sr., Westside Christian; Trey Crabb, Sr., Harrisburg; Connor Mansfield, Sr., Oregon Episcopal.

HONORABLE MENTION

Ulises Armenta, Sr., Umatilla; Sergey Bobrishev, Sr., Portland Adventist Academy; Logan Grove, Sr., Amity; Dawson Little, Jr., Warrenton; Britt Murray, 12, Harrisburg; Jace Page, So., Douglas; Brad Russell, Sr., Brookings-Harbor; Tanner Steele, Sr., Vale.

Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian’s Austin Maurer makes a pass during the Class 3A championship game against De Le Salle North Catholic in Coos Bay.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Cody Reece goes up for a shot during the third quarter of the Class 3A championship game against De La Salle North Catholic in Coos Bay.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Austin Maurer (34) and Cody Reece (1) go up to block a shot during the Class 3A championship game against De La Salle North Catholic in Coos Bay.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Austin Maurer (34) and Cody Reece (1) are awarded all-state honors after winning the Class 3A state championship.