Cascade Christian put the final touches on a 3A three-peat Saturday night at Marshfield High School. (Photo by John Gunther)
Cascade Christian put the final touches on a 3A three-peat Saturday night at Marshfield High School. (Photo by John Gunther)


COOS BAY — When Cascade Christian won the 3A boys basketball title two years ago, then-sophomore Austin Maurer made coach Brian Morse a promise.

“He came and hugged me and said, ‘Coach, that’s one of three,’” Morse recalled Saturday night after the Challengers beat Westside Christian 78-59 to win the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union tournament title at Marshfield High School.

Maurer was a big part of the Challengers’ third straight crown, and second straight title-game win over the Eagles. He helped Cascade Christian build a first-quarter lead the Eagles never were able to carve into and teamed with junior Jaren Fronckowiak and freshman Avery Huston to carry the scoring load.

“It’s awesome,” said the 7-foot Maurer, who is headed to Grand Canyon University to play basketball in college. “I think we just played as a team. We didn’t let the moment get too big.”

Fronckowiak echoed those thoughts.

“We stayed together as a team through thick and thin,” he said. “Tonight, our passing was awesome. We freed up the big man.”

Fronckowiak was the beneficiary of that passing early as teammates found him open on the wing for a pair of 3-pointers that helped the Challengers to an early 11-4 lead. Maurer also hit one from long range and Cascade Christian led 18-13 through one quarter and 32-23 at halftime.

Westside Christian coach David Henry said his team had a good game plan for slowing Maurer and for putting up offense, but foul trouble got in the way.

“We tried to limit their transition and we did,” Henry said. “The biggest thing for us is we didn’t have enough offensive firepower with the foul trouble we got in.”

He added that a couple of poor offensive decisions led to bad shot selection that helped dig the hole.

“We traded baskets for a long time,” Henry said. “We are not as deep as we have been (in past years). The foul trouble — that was a big thing.”

Will Ficker had a trio of fouls in the first half and Kahlid Hodge had two in the opening quarter.

That left Dax Hanzlik to carry the scoring load, and he largely did, eventually finishing with a game-high 32 points. Hodge scored 10 and Kyler Crites nine.

But Cascade Christian answered every Westside Christian run.

“We were trying to get defensive stops and get rebounds,” Fronckowiak said. “We knew we could score.”

He hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for Cascade Christian. Huston added 20 points while Maurer scored 29 on a combination of hoops, rebound hoops, dunks and free throws.

Peyton Maurer, Deryk Farmer and several role players on the bench helped with passing, defense and giving the starters a break.

Henry said with his team’s lack of depth, that was hard to overcome.

“They’re terrific,” he said of the Challengers. “They’re very well-coached, disciplined and talented, too.”

Henry said he was proud of his own team, too. The Eagles were co-champions of the Lewis & Clark League with Valley Catholic and De La Salle North Catholic and entered the state tournament as the top seed after winning the league tournament.

And they were hungry after losing to the Challengers in last year’s final.

“These kids were thinking about this for a year,” Henry said.

Even though they came up short, he added, “I’m proud of them.”

On the other side, Morse said he was thrilled to see his squad win a third straight crown.

“To see these seniors go out on a three-peat, I’m so happy for them,” Morse said.

The Challengers were driven by hard work every day.

“We’re very demanding in practices,” Morse said. “We try to make our practices more difficult than games. That makes the games easier.

“It’s nice to see that hard work pay off.”

The Challengers think they have the pieces to make another run next year.

Fronckowiak, Farmer and Huston all return and the other younger players have been improving this year.

“We’ll fill in with the role players we have,” Morse said. “Our seniors have set the standard for the legacy. They want to follow it.”

Fronckowiak agreed.

“It starts with the coaching staff,” he said. “We’ve just got to trust the coaches and believe in ourselves.”

Before looking ahead, though, the Challengers took time to celebrate.

“Three was the goal,” Austin Maurer said. “It’s surreal.

“It was the last ride. We wanted to come with a different hunger and leave it all on the court.”

The result was a third straight crown.

Saturday's other trophy games:

Third place

Valley Catholic outlasted Harrisburg 40-37, overcoming a strong shooting night by Jack Lidbeck. The senior hit six 3-pointers for the Eagles, but one that would have tied the game at the buzzer was off the mark.

Justin Han hit three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer in the final four minutes and Zach Pippin made three of four from the line when Harrisburg was trying to catch up late. Han finished with 10 points, Pippin nine and Luke Jarussi seven for Valley Catholic.

“Coming from a team that didn’t make the playoffs last year to third this year, it’s hard not to be happy with the season,” Pippin said. “We’re excited for next year.”

Lidbeck had 18 points for Harrisburg and Terren Crabb scored nine.

Fourth place

De La Salle North Catholic scored the last 14 points of the first quarter to take a 16-3 lead and cruised to a 64-32 win over Burns.

The Knights, who had not lost in the quarterfinals since 2013 before Thursday’s setback to Cascade Christian, bounced back with wins over Dayton and then Burns to secure another trophy.

In both games, they took advantage of their size inside. Against Burns, Max Walker had 15 points and Jaylen Hill 14.

Zane Perry-Kozeni had eight points for Burns, which won an overtime game at Vale to get into the tournament and had an overtime win over Neah-Kah-Nie on Friday to get into the consolation final.

All-tournament teams

The all-tournament first team included Cascade Christian’s Maurer and Huston, Westside Christian’s Hanzlik, De La Salle North Catholic’s Hill, and Harrisburg’s Crabb.

The second team included Westside Christian’s Ficker, Cascade Christian’s Fronckowiak, Harrisburg’s Lidbeck and Valley Catholic’s Jarussi and Pippin.

Harrisburg received the sportsmanship trophy.