ADAIR VILLAGE — Santiam Christian High took Salem Academy’s best shot and kept on rolling.
In Saturday’s 3A boys basketball state round-of-16 matchup, the visiting Crusaders made plays on both ends of the floor to hang around for three quarters.
But the final period belonged to SC.
The third-seeded Eagles put together an 8-0 run early in the fourth to reestablish a double-digit lead against the feisty Crusaders. SC continued to make shots down the stretch — from the field and the foul line — to seal a 72-61 victory and earn a spot in next weekend’s 3A state tournament.
The Eagles (21-5) will face No. 6 Cascade Christian at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the state quarterfinals at Marshfield High in Coos Bay.
“It’s what we’ve worked for all year, but we’re not done yet,” SC junior Zach Baugher said. “We definitely have more goals and are just trying to take this thing as far as we can.”
Baugher led all players with 31 points, including three 3-pointers. The 6-foot-6 wing delivered the exclamation point late in the game, knocking down an elbow 3 to make it 67-57 with 2:15 remaining.
The Eagles were 7 of 8 at the line in the final period to ice it.
“The guys played really hard,” SC coach Dennis McLain said. “Salem Academy, those guys played really good today and they outplayed us for quite a bit of the game. We were just able to get ahead and luckily keep the lead.”
Consecutive layins from Zeke Gilbert put SC up 38-29 early in the third quarter. A Baugher conventional three-point play extended it to 43-33.
The 14th-seeded Crusaders (14-13), who earned the PacWest Conference’s No. 2 seed to the state playoffs, cut it to 45-43 on two deep triples by Hayden Wakefield and a strong Luke Miller finish. SC led 52-48 heading to the fourth before seizing control with an 8-0 run.
The Eagles were more efficient on offense down the stretch and also got after it on the defensive end.
“I definitely thought we could’ve played better defense, but we got stops when we needed to,” Baugher said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
The victory sends SC to the state tournament for the second time in three seasons.
Gilbert and Grant Carley recorded 10 points apiece for the Eagles while Sam Barton added eight and Josh Baugher seven.
Miller, a sophomore guard, paced the Crusaders with 23 points.
SC opened the game on a 13-2 run, getting seven points from Zach Baugher while Gilbert (four points) and the younger Baugher (two) also contributed. A circus layin by Miller helped the Crusaders trim the deficit to two before Zach Baugher’s buzzer-beating putback made it 19-15 after one quarter.
Salem Academy used an 8-0 spurt to get within one at 24-23, but a Carley triple and Gilbert rebound basket made in 34-25. SC led 34-27 at halftime.
Two-plus months ago at the Dayton Tournament, the Eagles and Crusaders played to an identical 72-61 score. McLain felt both teams were stronger in the rematch.
“And you hope you’re playing better now than you are back in December,” he said. “But I thought they played really well today.”