ADAIR VILLAGE — Santiam Christian High doesn’t look like a typical 3A boys basketball team.
The Eagles opened Friday’s nonconference game with visiting Creswell in a 2-3 matchup zone, starting three players that stand 6-foot-2 or taller. SC, which brought three more big bodies off the bench, later switched to a lethal 1-3-1 zone with 6-foot-6 Zach Baugher up top.
Overwhelming length and aggressiveness on defense helped the Eagles pull away for a 66-39 victory.
“We came out ready to play,” Baugher said. “We brought the intensity as a team defensively, offensively, getting those rebounds and pushing the pace. It was a good team effort.”
Baugher, a junior, finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Eagles (3-0). Senior point guard Grant Carley added 12 points and seven assists.
Creswell (4-1) struggled to generate quality shots against SC’s slew of lengthy defenders. Russell Vela (6-5), Zeke Gilbert (6-4), Josh Baugher (6-4) and Zach Baugher were all imposing figures.
“Most importantly, we finally had a game where we rebounded,” SC coach Dennis McLain said. “This is the first time we’ve done that this season. We’ve been letting too many offensive boards go and have given up too many second chances, but this time we really blocked some people out.”
The Eagles, who resume nonleague play Tuesday night at Toledo, used a 7-0 run to grab an early 14-6 advantage. Zach Baugher then knocked down a 25-foot straight-away 3-pointer that made it 18-8 after one quarter.
SC kept its foot on the gas, scoring the first nine points of the second to go up 27-8. The Eagles led 31-18 at the half.
The elder Baugher scored 10 of SC’s 14 third-quarter points as the hosts extended their advantage to 45-21 heading to the fourth.
Several Eagles, including Carley, were late additions to the basketball team. SC fell to Cascade Christian in the 3A state championship football game on Nov. 25.
“They are still trying to get used to each other and we’re figuring out where everyone is going to be on offense and defense,” McLain said. “We just got the football players here last week so we are pretty fresh. But we love watching them push the ball, share the ball and be unselfish. The guys are really hustling hard.”
The Baughers have given a tremendous boost to the Eagles, who finished 11-12 a season ago. The family moved back to the mid-valley after spending the last three years in Missoula, Montana.
The brothers’ dad, Anthony Baugher, was previously the boys basketball coach and athletic director at SC. Anthony Baugher now works for Corban University in Salem.
“They are back with their buddies and they are playing with guys they played with back in elementary and junior high,” McLain said. “They fit in because they’ve known these guys for years and they’ve meshed and jelled with them very easily. They are smart basketball players, and that really helps out.”
Zach Baugher said the transition is off to a good start.
“These are great players, so it’s easy when they are that good to just join right in with them,” he said. “But it has been a little bit of an adjustment with the intensity and pace of play.”
Sam Barton, Patrick Otis, Zach Watson and Carley are all returning players from last year’s squad.
With the Baughers on board, SC is a strong candidate to get back to the 3A state tournament.
“It think we can go very far,” Zach Baugher said. “If we play together as a team and play hard, the sky is the limit.”