COOS BAY — For the third straight day at the 3A boys state basketball tournament, Santiam Christian High was a little off its game. For the second straight day, it cost the Eagles a chance for a win.
Blanchet Catholic used a big run bridging the third and fourth quarters to turn a five-point Santiam Christian lead into an 11-point advantage for the Cavaliers, who went on to beat the Eagles 52-45 for third place.
RJ Veliz and Mike Bashaw keyed the run with a mix of inside and outside shooting as both put up huge numbers on the day.
Veliz finished with 26 points and Bashaw had 22, including four 3-pointers — several from NBA length — and a breakaway dunk.
“Yesterday I was 0 for 5 from 3, but the coaches kept telling me to keep shooting,” Bashaw said. “After yesterday there was no way I was going to shoot another 0 for 5 (from 3-point range), that is just not going to happen for me. The player that I am, the coaches just told me keep shooting.”
Santiam Christian, meanwhile, struggled to 33-percent shooting (17 for 51) and 28 percent (7 for 25) from 3-point range.
“Our shots weren’t falling the whole tournament,” said Zach Baugher, who led the Eagles with 16 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds. “We never got it going. We couldn’t get any rhythm.”
Santiam Christian didn’t score for the final five minutes of the third quarter and then had another six-minute scoring drought in the fourth. When the Eagles finally did make shots, they hit four 3-pointers — by Patrick Otis, Grant Carley and Baugher twice. But by that point they were trading 3-pointers for free throws and the closest they could get was five points down.
“Our guys played hard,” Santiam Christian coach Dennis McLain said. “Our legs weren’t there.”
He said a couple key players have been battling through illness or injury, contributed as well as they could.
But while Santiam Christian struggled, the two stars for Blanchet Catholic got hot.
“We didn’t get out on the Blanchet kids,” McLain said. “They played great. They got the ball in the hole more than we did.”
Veliz said Blanchet Catholic finished strong.
“We made a lot of big plays down the stretch,” he said. “They hit tough shots at the end, but we knocked down our free throws and came out with the victory.”
Santiam Christian did get to bring home the sixth-place trophy. And the Eagles also brought a desire to return next year.
Carley, Sam Barton and Zach Watson are the team’s only seniors.
Asked if he was hungry to return, Baugher responded: “Starving.”
“We’ve just got to get in the weight room, get in the gym, work, work, work for next year," he said.
Carley had 13 points Saturday for the Eagles, who finished the season 22-7. Josh Baugher, Zach’s younger brother, had five assists, three steals and two blocks to go with two points.