ROGUE RIVER — It’s been a long time coming but Rogue River was able to step up to the challenge in the waning moments Saturday night to clinch the Southern Cascade League championship in the Class 3A boys basketball state playoffs.
The Chieftains, who tied Cascade Christian and St. Mary’s for the regular-season SCL title, put an exclamation mark on a breakthrough year with a late flurry to edge Cascade Christian, 46-43, in the title game of the SCL playoffs at Rogue River High.
Rogue River’s last conference championship came in 1968.
“It’s been 47 years but I tell people it’s like yesterday,” said Chieftains head coach Ron Haynes, whose team improved to 16-8.
Connor Strickland drained a go-ahead 3-pointer with just under one minute to play to give Rogue River a 45-43 lead after trailing by 10 earlier in the fourth quarter. Cascade Christian misfired on its tying attempt and then Rio Lopez went 1-for-2 from the free-throw line with about 13 seconds left. Needing a 3-pointer to tie, the Challengers (16-11) failed to get a shot off in the final moments.
“We just started chipping away and I think we got over the nerves finally because we had a packed gym with a lot of excitement for tonight,” said Haynes of the comeback. “We started going to the basket and getting fouled and made 6 of 8 free throws in the fourth and two 3s to pull it out.”
Strickland finished with 12 points while Chris Campbell had 11 points and four steals and the Chieftains got 10 points apiece from Jordan Ehrhardt and Derek Pratt. Lopez grabbed six rebounds.
Cascade Christian, which was seeking its 10th straight league tournament title, was led by sophomore Carson Cochran, who had 16 points. Christian Kammerzell added eight points and the Challengers, who led 35-28 entering the fourth quarter, got six apiece from Jason Wyncoop and Brandon Winter.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (43) — Kammerzell 8, Wager 5, Morse 0, Booker 2, Wyncoop 6, Horton 0, Cochran 16, Winter 6. Totals: 21 0-4 43.
ROGUE RIVER (46) — Caulley 0, Lopez 3, Campbell 11, Woodall 0, Ehrhardt 10, Strickland 12, Pratt 10, Hanson 0. Totals: 16 8-13 46.
3-point goals — Cascade Christian 1 (Wager 1), Rogue River 6 (Campbell 2, Ehrhardt 1, Strickland 3) Fouled out — Cochran.
OISRA NORDIC SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS: At Mt. Bachelor, Ashland’s Clara Honsinger won the girls 5.6K classic race Saturday and, with a second-place showing in the 5.5K freestyle Friday, finished second in the combined results to South Eugene’s Phacelia Cramer.
Honsinger used a winning time of 17:08 Saturday and a runner-up showing of 15:27 on Friday to finish in 32:35 for the combined scoring. Cramer won in 32:13.
Ashland’s boys team also finished third in the combined team scores behind leading efforts from Erik Oline (eighth, 5.6K classic, 16:18) and Elias Lawson (14th, 5.5K freestyle, 25:46). Oline was 13th in the combined competition at 32:53.
SOUTHERN LEAGUE SLOPESTYLE: At Mt. Bachelor, Ashland’s Che Tratensek-Contor earned the boys victory and Posa Tratensek-Contor was the top girls finisher in the Southern Oregon League slopestyle event at Mt. Bachelor.
Che Tratensek-Contor posted a best score of 222.5 points among his two runs to edge out North Medford’s Sutton Hewlett (219.5) and Ashland’s Hap Snyder (210).
Posa Tratensek-Contor scored a 192 on her second run for the top effort of the day, finishing ahead of Ashland’s Haley Mullane (115) and Mayla Sumner (91).
Ashland’s top boys team totaled 2,550 points to win over North Medford (1,385). Ashland’s second unit scored 1,220 points and South Medford scored 760.
Ashland fielded the only complete girls team.