COOS BAY — In Santiam Christian’s first trip to the 3A state tournament in four years, the Eagles boys team fell to an efficient De La Salle North Catholic team, losing 68-62 in the state quarterfinals on Thursday at Marshfield High School.
Tied at 30-30, De La Salle North shot 55 percent in the second half and 78 percent on 23 free throws to finish off the Eagles. Santiam Christian will now be in the consolation bracket, facing Colton at 9 a.m. Friday in North Bend.
“I was really happy with our effort today,” Santiam Christian’s Dru Draper said. “That might’ve been the hardest we’ve ever played. We knew going in they were going to be a tough matchup for us but we just tried tour best to play good defense and hustle around and that’s what we did but it didn’t end up the way we wanted to.”
De La Salle North got out to a hot start, getting its first seven points from Javary Christmas to take a 13-6 lead after one quarter.
“I wanted us to start off strong as a unit and I just happened to score the points,” Christmas explained. The senior guard finished with a game-high 22 points. “I wasn’t creating my own shots, my team set me up for a lot of buckets.”
The Knights’ speed on defense — especially when they pressed — flustered the Eagles early on, forcing them to shoot 2- for-13 in the first quarter.
“We weren’t really sure to expect with their defense and traps and we kind of got punched in the face,” Santiam Christian’s Hunter Bain said. “We reacted pretty well.”
The second quarter belonged to Bain. The senior post had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in the quarter including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to knot the game at 30-30 heading into half.
Bain finished with a team-high 16 points to go with five rebounds and three steals, but even after the strong outing, Bain’s five turnovers left a sour taste in his mouth.
“I was feeling pretty good but there was couple of times I screwed up,” Bain said. “Overall I’m pleased with my play but we just didn’t quite win at the end.”
The Knight’s tightened up in the second half and started to shoot better. In the third quarter, they shot 60 percent to take a 46-39 lead into the fourth. De La Salle North’s Meartu Aschalew led the way by scoring 12 of his 19 points in the second half, including going 8-for-8 from the line in the final two quarters.
Aschalew thought the undersized Knights, whose tallest player is Tyler White at 6-foot-3, used their intangibles down the stretch in the second half.
“Our heart really showed right there,” Aschalew said. “A lot of people say heart over height and we showed our heart definitely, the whole team.”
The Eagles were without Steven Kontra and Draper for stretches during the second half due to injury. Draper sustained a knee injury but was cleared to return by the end of the game. Kontra injured his elbow and head and did not return.
At the end of the game, the Eagles’ Bain, Draper and Brady Patterson all hit 3-pointers to cut the lead to 66-62 with 2.6 seconds left, but it was too little too late. Draper finished with 15 points and Patterson had 14, but the Eagles couldn’t cut the lead close enough to get over the hump.
“We held them within that 10-12 range,” Draper said. “But with them, that’s a pretty good lead cause they can shoot the lights out and they know how to work the ball around.”
De La Salle North 68, Santiam Christian 62
SANTIAM CHRISTIAN 6 24 9 23 — 62
DE LA SALLE NORTH 13 17 16 22 — 68
SANTIAM CHRISTIAN: Hunter Bain 16, Draper 15, Patterson 14, Smith 6, Kontra 5, Hendrix 2, Swigart-Risinger 2, Carley 2, Stutzman, Anderson-Smith
DE LA SALLE NORTH CA: Javary Christmas 22, Aschalew 19 Frison 9, Glenn 8, Lincoln 5, Guntle 4, Reiley 1, Johnson, White, Paschal, Mattila, Aclan