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Cascade's time to shine

When it comes to this year’s crosstown rivalry between Cascade Christian and St. Mary’s, apparently one good court-storming finish deserves another.

The Crusaders exited the Jan. 18 meeting between the teams in leaping fashion after securing a 51-49 victory, but on Friday, it was the Challengers turn to skip into the night with yet another big Far West League triumph, 64-63 in overtime, during their late-season surge.

Sophomore Donminic Lewis hit a game-tying 3-pointer to help send the game into overtime, then scored five of his team’s seven points in the extra session to earn a win that wasn’t secured until the final second of OT.

“It was a great experience, especially after coming off a loss from them over at their place,” said the 5-foot-11 guard. “It was great to see everyone be able to celebrate at our place.”

Lewis finished with a team-high 22 points to go with six rebounds and two steals to incredibly put Cascade Christian (8-15, 6-3 FWL) in playoff position with one regular season game remaining. The Challengers opened the season with only one win in their first 13 games but have since dialed it in, entering Friday’s clash with St. Mary’s in a three-way tie for second place in the FWL along with the Crusaders and Brookings-Harbor.

“It was an incredible game and our guys just gutted it out at the end,” said Cascade Christian head coach Brian Morse, whose team closes the regular season at Brookings-Harbor on Tuesday. “It was fun. Anytime you beat your crosstown rival, especially at home, makes it even better.”

St. Mary’s (11-12, 5-4) had been hoping to earn the season sweep and put a lock on a potential second-place finish and home date in the Far West League playoffs, but the Challengers had no plans of just handing that over.

Cascade Christian led from the start, opening a 20-10 lead through one quarter, before St. Mary’s was able to rally and take its first lead with 61/2 minutes remaining in regulation on a driving basket by Iyan Hristov.

It was 55-51 in favor of the Crusaders with one minute to go when Challengers sophomore Nathan Spurlock stepped up and hit a 3-pointer. An inside basket by St. Mary’s 6-5 junior Tre Foster, who had a whopping 27 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks, pushed the Crusaders up 57-54.

That’s when Lewis made the biggest basket of regulation, dropping the ball down to the baseline to junior Kiegan Schaan before angling his way to the corner for a tying trey with 19.6 seconds to go.

“That was huge,” said Morse of Lewis’ 3-pointer. “He kind of flared out to the corner and I’m glad that they hit him. He just knocked down that big shot and it was huge to keep it going.”

St. Mary’s worked the clock down but missed its last-gasp effort by senior Gavin Rajagopal.

With the scored tied at 60 in overtime, Lewis had his initial shot blocked by Francis Okeyia but kept his cool and regathered the ball for a go-ahead layup. He added a free throw after St. Mary’s went 0-for-2 at the foul line on the other end to push his team up 63-60.

Foster answered with a basket inside but couldn’t convert the three-point opportunity at the foul line. After Lewis was fouled on the other end, he missed his first foul shot but made the second with 16.7 seconds to go for a 64-62 edge.

“I was just hoping it went in,” Lewis said with a laugh of the fateful free throw.

A wild final sequence left St. Mary’s senior Cody Conner fouled on a driving attempt with 3.3 seconds remaining. After he made the first shot, the second one glanced off the rim and it wasn’t until two errant putback attempts by Okeyia that Challengers sophomore Braydn Coppedge pulled in a game-clinching rebound just prior to the buzzer.

Layne Collom added 15 points and six rebounds for the Challengers, who got 11 points, four rebounds and four assists from Schaan and seven points from Spurlock.

“We just kept on pushing to come out with the win in overtime,” said Lewis. “They’re a great team but we just played good.”

Okeyia managed 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for St. Mary’s, while Hristov had nine points and three assists.

ST. MARY’S (63): Hristov 9, Kaeo-Wailehua 3, Okeyia 11, Conner 4, Reynolds 2, Rajagopal 2, Sternenberg 3, Snyder 2, Foster 27. Totals: 25 10-21 63.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (64): Reece 4, Schaan 11, Miller 0, Coppedge 4, Lewis 22, Collom 15, Sample 1, Spurlock 7, Flenner 0. Totals: 20 17-32 64.

St. Mary’s10121916 6— 63

Cascade Christian20121312 7— 64

3-point goals — St. Mary’s 3 (Hristov 2, Kaeo-Wailehua 1), Cascade Christian 7 (Reece 1, Schaan 1, Coppedge 1, Lewis 2, Collom 2). Fouled out — Kaeo-Wailehua, Rajagopal, Spurlock.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

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