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  • Buford B. Brown

Semifinals matchups are set: It's Rancho Christian (CA) vs. South Salem and Lanier (GA) Wilsonvill

Rancho racks up 101 points in another impressive showing, while Lanier handles a very good West Salem team as the out-of-staters from California and Georgia look destined for a show-down unless South Salem or Wilsonville can pull off an upset.

SALEM, OR - Rancho Christian was at it again.

On a night when they once again played without star centerpiece Evan Mobley, the Eagles showed the "supporting cast" is pretty impressive in its own right.

While Mobley recovers from an ankle injury,

Jayce Catchings, a 6'4 senior, led the way with 31 points for Rancho Christian, Gonzaga commit Dominick Harris hammered home two back-to-back thunderous dunks in the first half that brought a lively and large crowd to its feet late in the first quarter and finished with 15 points, while Bryson Stephens and Jaden Byers both chipped in 11 points.

Stephens, a 6'0 guard, seemed to defy both the laws of physics and gravity on an alley-oop dunk off a baseline inbound play shortly after Harris's two thunderous slams... and the Eagles were off and flying.

Thurston was led by 6'6 post Grant Starck's 15 points, while Jake Newell chipped in 12. Starck was a force inside early, while Newell could find his spots, too. Thurston looked the part of a 5A football state champion, and as the Colts get their basketball legs and timing, you have to wonder how good coach Blaine Liberatore's team might be by the end of the season.

Earlier in the day, the Longhorns of Lanier blitzed Scappoose, 84-43. Lanier had balanced scoring as four players finished in double figures, and the Longhorns looked like a team that might be able to challenge Rancho Christian -- maybe -- on the right evening. The Indians were led by senior Kyle Negelspach who scored 12 points.

In the other two opening round games, Salem came strong. Sprague beat Wilson, 69-55, behind 56 combined points from Kobe Withers (22), Mason Lomax (21), and Dallon Morgan (13). South Salem, meanwhile, got 19 points from senior guard Trey Galbraith and pulled away from West Albany, 67-51 despite strong inside play from junior post TJ Zimmerman (16 points).

With the Saxons and Olympians advancing and joining West Salem who won Wednesday in impressive fashion, Salem has three schools in the quarterfinals.


Willamette University; Salem, OR

Friday, December 20

Consolation Games

8:30am - Thurston Colts vs. Silverton Foxes

10:00am - Parkrose Broncos vs. West Albany Bulldogs

11:30am - Corvallis Spartans vs. Scappoose Indians

Championship Games

4:30pm - Rancho Christian Eagles (Temecula, CA) vs. Sherwood Bowmen

6:00pm - Tigard Tigers vs. South Salem Saxons

7:30pm - West Salem Titans vs. Lanier Longhorns (Buford, GA)

9:00pm - Sprague Olympians vs. Wilsonville Wildcats

The 16-team, bracketed four-round tournament will continue through "Championship Monday", December 23.


Contest Extravaganza featuring Les Schwab Tires Slam Dunk Contest - 5:45pm or so on Sunday, 12/22


Tickets are no longer available online, but can be purchased at the gate at Willamette University.

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