Cascade Christian 65
St. Marys 51

On paper, it may have appeared to be a mismatch when the 10-2, second-ranked Cascade Christian Challengers travelled across town to play the 5-8, unranked St. Mary’s Crusaders. But, both of these teams were 4-0 and tied for the lead in the Far West League, and in this rivalry series records get thrown out and you can always expect a battle. That’s just what we got Saturday afternoon when they tipped-off shortly after 3:00 at the St. Mary’s gym.

The Crusaders started fast out of the gate taking a 12-7 lead at the 3:39 mark of the first quarter when Challengers coach Brian Morse called his first timeout. The Challengers settled in after the timeout and went on a 13-0 run before a driving bucket by St. Mary’s post Heemir Patel ended the run and left the score 20-14, Cascade Christian after one period. Austin Maurer led the Challengers with seven points in the quarter and Drew Hall chipped in with six. The Crusaders were led by Noah Friesen and Kayden Walker with five points apiece.

The Challengers continued to build on their lead in the second quarter with nine of their 15 points coming from three point range as St. Mary’s forward Jaden Foster worked hard denying the ball from entering the post to Austin Maurer who only scored two points in the quarter. St. Mary’s found the going much tougher on the offensive end in the second frame as Cascade stepped up their defensive pressure. Heemir Patel did his best to single-handedly keep the Crusaders in the game, scoring their first six points of the second quarter on hard drives and finishes at the rim. Two big threes by Jaren Fronckowiak and another by Brylee Richardson ensured the Challengers would take a “comfortable” 11 point lead, 35-24 into the half.

The second half started with Austin Maurer making his presence felt and putting his stamp on the game with four early blocks on the defensive end, virtually erasing every St. Mary’s attempt in the paint. Maurer asserted himself with renewed energy and aggressiveness on the offensive end as well, scoring seven points in the post in the third quarter. St. Mary’s could only manage to score eight points in the third, finding themselves with what appeared to be an insurmountable 19-point deficit, 51-32 entering the fourth quarter.

However, words like insurmountable or quit do not appear to be anywhere in the vocabulary of this St. Mary’s roster as they showed relentless energy, heart and effort in a frantic 16-6 run to start the quarter leading to a Cascade Christian timeout, clinging to a 57-48 lead with 3:10 left in the game. The Crusaders would not get any closer however, as it was just too much Maurer at the end with another big block on defense and two big buckets in the paint, including a two-handed flush to put the icing on the cake. The St. Mary’s fourth quarter charge was led by a gutsy and determined nine-point effort by Noah Friesen before fouling out late in the game. It wasn’t enough though, as the Challengers finished the game with a hard-fought 65-51 victory.

Austin Maurer led the Challengers with great all-around performance including 20 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks, 3 steal and 3 assists, Drew Hall had 15 points and 5 assists and Jaren Fronckowiak had 16 points. The Crusaders were led by Noah Friesen with 18 points and Kayden Walker chipped-in with 11.

After picking up the win in the latest chapter of this storied rivalry, Challenger’s Coach Morse had praise for the heart and effort shown by the boys from St. Mary’s. “I was obviously happy we won, but I felt St. Mary’s played great and outworked us for most of the game.” “It was the first time during our nine-game win streak that we have been outworked,” Coach Morse said after the game. Coach Kyle Walker was also proud of the effort put forth by his team, saying “I thought our kids played very well against a very good team.” An understatement in my opinion.

by Rick Dyer


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