Crosshill Christian Boys Basketball Advances To 1A Sweet 16

By Jeremy McDonald

TURNER, Ore.–  Crosshill Christian only got a taste of what is to come in the 1A State Playoffs Wednesday night when they held off Mohawk 38-34 to advance to the Round of 16.

The loud crowd was there.  The Eagles home crowd made their presence known while the Mustang that made the trip from Marcola, just outside of Eugene, did the same thing despite their small numbers that made the trip on North in this particular game.  The second time that the two squads had met, but this time the season was on the line.

Crosshill never trailed in the game, jumping out to a quick 8-0 lead.  But they couldn’t quite shake Mohawk off their backs as the Mustangs came back.  It was 21-17 by the halftime break and 27-20 after three before the Eagles pulled ahead up 11 with 5:16 left in the game.  Seeming as if they were going to pull away for good in this one before Mohawk pulled one more trick from under their sleeve and took advantage of a Crosshill lull to pull back to within three with a minute left in the game.  

Leading 37-34, the pressure was on the hometown squad to close out the game when Head Coach Brian Spaulding called timeout and try to get his team to settle down with their season on the line.

“He told us to calm it down, we got it.  We know that we have it, we just got to move the ball all around.  We knew that they were going to foul us, so we had to hold the ball tight, Noah (Dallum) had a free throw to put us up by four,” Ben Helemstrand described that final minute discussion.  “It’s so big.  I wanted it so bad for us, especially for our seniors, I know it’s their last run so making it to Baker (City) would be amazing.”

Baker High School, where the eight-team double-elimination bracket is at, has been the end-goal for a lot of the 1A teams like the Eagles as Dallum splits a pair of free throws that made it a two-possession game late.  But to achieve their goal, they’ll have to go to the hub of 1A basketball in Eastern Oregon to play Cove in the Greater La Grande-area to do so.  Wednesday night’s game was a good appetizer for that, as they closed out a tough game like the one they just had, in preparation for their big test ahead of them on Saturday.

“It was nice to come out with a ‘W’ after these last two losses.  It was good to come back out and get another one.  It’s taught us that we can’t underestimate our opponents no matter who it is, if we beat them before or not.  We just got to be ready for anybody.  (The last minute) was intense.  It was electric in here, you can really hear it booming in your ears and it was fun getting to play,” Dallum said.  “Tonight was a little gross but if we have a good, hard week of practice.  Just intense, playoff practice, I think we can get iti done.  Take that five-hour trip and I think we can come away with a ‘W’ and have a trip to Baker.”

Ben Helemstrand scored nine points, Kyler Helemstrand contributed seven points and Dallum contributed another six points for Crosshill Christian.  Noah Meray led the Mohawks with 13 points and Konor Robinson chipped in another nine for the Mustangs, who closed out their season 18-8.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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