Phoenix's Alex Young drives to the hoop in front of North Valley's Jeremiah Rusk in the second half on Thursday. - Andy Atkinson

Pirates stay unbeaten

You can call them "defending champions" if you want, but the undefeated Phoenix boys basketball team looks at itself a little differently.

"We don't like the term 'defending' because it is a brand new season," Phoenix senior wing Tyler Dungannon said. "It's anybody's state title out there. We may be the front-runner, so-called, but we know we have to earn it and we know everybody will be gunning for us."

That attitude seems to be paying off for the Pirates, who have defended their Class 4A state championship quite nicely through eight games this season.

Senior guard Alex Young scored 28 points and Dungannon poured in 21 to help Phoenix (8-0) pound previously unbeaten North Valley 64-48 in the Wells Fargo Advisors Christmas Classic finals at Cascade Christian High on Thursday.

The Knights (9-1) found themselves trailing 20-11 after the first quarter and 39-25 at halftime. North Valley was behind by as many as 21 points in the contest and struggled to cultivate much of an offensive rhythm.

Meanwhile, Young and Dungannon had their best stuff on display.

Young, who had eight rebounds, connected on 13 of his 15 free-throw attempts and seven of his 15 attempts from the field. Dungannon was also 7-for-15 and added five rebounds and three steals for Phoenix, which will get in some leg work today before taking a couple days off and then returning to practice.

The Pirates, who played in their sixth game in eight days on Thursday, then open with Ashland (6-3) in the Summit Holiday Classic on Wednesday.

The meeting of unbeatens wasn't the first for Phoenix, which knocked off previously undefeated Newport in the Phoenix Invitational championship on Dec. 17.

"We had a few blowouts at the beginning of the year, but the last three or four games have been challenging and rough on our bodies," Young said. "Moving on from here we've just got to continue to play basketball like the way we did tonight, the way we know how to and just move on and see where the season takes us."

The Pirates, who beat Cottage Grove in the state finals last year, have guided their ship in the right direction so far, trouncing teams by an average margin of 24.4 points.

"That's our whole thing, trying to keep this team motivated to get better, that is our goal this year," Phoenix head coach Glenn Johannes said. "We've got to keep on pushing these kids and realizing what their potential is and go from there."

The contest against North Valley served as an early Skyline Conference preview, which saw the Pirates outgun and outrun the Knights.

Phoenix also sizzled at the charity stripe, knocking down 22 of its 24 tries.

"Sometimes it's weird to play a conference rival in preseason but tonight it was good just to get a taste of what they are looking like this year and what we'll have to go up against three more times possibly," Young said.

"The matchup was good. We could get out and run, which made them try to speed up the game, which we like to do."

The Knights had a hard time scoring in transition and in their half-court sets and an even harder time connecting at the free-throw line, finishing 3-for-11.

Defensively, Young (who is 6-foot-1) helped the shorter Pirates bottle up North Valley's 6-foot-8 post JJ Chirnside, who finished with eight points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.

"Our goal is always to create some havoc on the perimeter and trace the ball and make (teams make) tough passes on the inside," Johannes said. "And we are not a very big team and not deep with our bigs until we get Joey Keith back, but our goal is to make sure we find a matchup every time that we can take advantage of. I think that is the one we got today."

Calvin Loper had seven points and four rebounds for Phoenix.

"There are so many guys who contribute who don't make the stat book," said Dungannon, whose collection of points included a fastbreak slam dunk.

Jake Herklotz led the Knights with 11 points and seven rebounds. Kevin Brazille offered up 10 points and three assists, and Jeremiah Rusk gave North Valley several sparks with his seven points.

Wyatt McCue turned in six points.

Young, Dungannon and Herklotz were all named to the all-tournament team.

NORTH VALLEY (48) — Brazille 10, Mooney 2, Dean 0, Abbot 0, Rusk 7, Vandehey 4, Lyon 0, Herklotz 11, McCue 6, Chirnside 8. Totals: 22-54 3-11 48.

PHOENIX (64) — Hamilton 0, Young 28, Campoy 0, Mayers 0, Brown 0, Loper 7, Keith 0, Morris 4, Dungannon 21, Richardson 0, Keith 4. Totals: 19-41 22-24 64.

North Valley 11 14 11 12 — 48

Phoenix 20 19 11 14 — 64

3-point goals — North Valley 1-8 (Rusk 1), Phoenix 4-8 (Dungannon 2, Young 1, Loper 1).

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email

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