Late surge lifts North Clackamas to 45-38 district win over Grand View
North Clackamas Christian School's Jake Van Lieu and the rest of the Saints weren't ready for their season to end Thursday.
Van Lieu scored eight of his game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 11 rebounds to help carry the Saints to a 45-38 victory over Grand View Christian Academy and clinch third place in the Valley 10 League boys' basketball district tournament at Multnomah University.
Braden Young scored the go-ahead basket with 4:41 to play and then the Saints of Oregon City made 9 of 12 free throws in the closing 2:37 as they locked up the league's third and final berth into the OSAA's Class 1A playoffs.
"It's exciting, especially as a senior, that we get to keep going," said Van Lieu, one of three seniors for North Clackamas. "I'm really happy for the freshmen and sophomore that they get a first chance at going to state."
The Saints (21-4) will open the playoffs Tuesday on the road against an opponent that is still to be determined.
"I think it's just validation of the hard work these guys have put in all year long," Saints coach Grant Nelson said. "To me, this was our biggest win of the year.
"To be in this position against a team that was in the state playoffs last year and to be in a pressure situation where one quarter decides which team moves on, these guys showed me how far they've come and that they deserved to be there. That was exciting for me."
Grand View's Will Hoxie finished with a team-high 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting from 3-point range for the Eagles of Beavercreek (12-10), who came up empty on six of their final eight possessions.
"If we wanted to rate it, it was an A-minus effort, and we really needed an A or an A-plus tonight if we were going to win this game," Eagles coach Edwin Lugo said. "In the end, we missed open shots, we gave up offensive rebounds, and we missed free throws, and those are the things that changed it to an A-minus effort, but we gave ourselves a chance."
North Clackamas, coming off a 37-35 overtime loss to Life Christian in Tuesday's district opener, raced out to a 14-5 lead in the first quarter behind Young, who had 10 points in the quarter on 4-for-4 shooting from the field with a pair of 3-pointers.
Van Lieu banked in a 3-pointer on NCC's first possession of the second quarter to push the lead 17-5, but Grand View closed the half on a 14-4 run, pulling within 21-19 when Danny Torres hit a fadeaway jumper with seconds left.
NCC's lead was 27-22 in the third quarter when Hoxie connected twice from long range, giving the Eagles a 28-27 lead with 1:07 to play in the quarter.
Torres then stole the ball and raced the other way for a transition lay-up, but the basket was waved off when Torres was called for an offensive foul.
When Torres protested the call, he got hit with a technical foul and Young made one of two free throws with 34.2 seconds left to tie the score at 28-28.
The game was tied again at 32-32 when Young got loose along the right baseline and hit the shot that put the Saints on top to stay with 4:41 remaining.
"I saw I was open and I knew that we needed shots," Young said. "I really like shooting anywhere inside of 15 to 20 feet, so I decided to take it."
After Hoxie and Torres each missed shots from long distance that would have put the Eagles back in front, Van Lieu grabbed an offensive rebound and got fouled with 2:37 left, starting the parade to the free-throw line that helped put the game away.
"It took everyone coming together as a team and playing strong defense, knowing the offense would come after that," Van Lieu said of the Saints' fourth-quarter surge. "We really wanted to keep going. I'm excited for whoever it is we play next."
By the numbers
Young finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, and Hadden Stark added six points and three boards for the Saints, who advanced to the state playoffs for the third season in a row.
"Before the start of the fourth quarter, I told the guys, 'If I had told you we'd have eight minutes against Grand View and whoever wins that eight minutes goes to state, would you take it?'" Nelson said. "And they were all like, 'Oh, you bet!'
"I felt like we could beat Grand View in that quarter, and I particularly challenged our captains -- Hadden, Jake, and Braden -- to step up. What you can expect from freshmen and sophomores is limited in a situation where a team is pressuring them that much. The captains needed to be the guys to lead us, and I felt like they were in that fourth quarter."
Gavin Kearney, one of six seniors for Grand View, finished with eight points, which Torres scored seven and Wes Vestal added five for the Eagles, who finished the season 0-3 against the Saints.
"We knew we needed to keep contact here," Lugo said. "When we play North Clackamas, no matter how we move our parts, there's always a mismatch in their favor, whether its a smaller guy guarding a bigger guy or it's a bigger guy guarding a faster guy. And they're great at seeing those and taking advantage of them.
"There were shots here and there, things here and there that could have pushed us over into the playoffs. But, overall, we finished about where we thought we'd be."
By Jim Beseda
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