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PREP FOCUS/BY PAUL DANZER/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/De La Salle North Catholic breaks through; Columbia Christian arrives

Two Portland schools already have won 2018 boys basketball state titles.

De La Salle North Catholic captured the school's first state crown of any kind on Saturday, beating Dayton for the Class 3A championship.

Columbia Christian topped Western Mennonite of Salem for the 2A title.

State championships are always special. But for De La Salle, Saturday's 68-55 win over Dayton exorcised several years of frustration. This was De La Salle's fourth appearance in the 3A final in the last five seasons.

"It's big for our whole community," says De La Salle North Catholic coach James Broadous. "Our boys felt it, and they talked a lot about it. This (championship) is not just for the basketball team, but for the whole De La Salle community."

The school leases the former Kenton Elementary School building from Portland Public Schools. Its sports teams practice and play off campus — the basketball teams at the Salvation Army's Moore Street Community Center.

"Now we finally have something of our own — this state championship," says Broadous, who also is dean of students and athletic director.

Sharing a gym with their junior varsity team and doing most of their practicing on half of a court didn't stop this season's Knights from become a full-on success.

"We want to attack on offense. We want to attack on defense," Broadous says. "With the type of talent we have one through 12 on our team, we want to keep pressure on teams. We'll full-court press, we'll half-court press. We hope to eventually wear our opponent down."REILEY

That's the way things played out at Marshfield High in Coos Bay — particularly in the semifinal, where De La Salle outscored Blanchet Catholic of Salem 16-6 in the fourth quarter to win, 47-36.

In the championship game against Dayton, Broadous says he felt good after senior Kadren Addy hit a shot at the first-half buzzer to put De La Salle up 10.

Addy and junior Kadeem Nelson scored 19 points apiece in the championship game and both were named second-team all-tournament.

Emmanuel Reiley — a 6-3 senior who Broadous says provided the will to win that drove his team to the title — was a unanimous first-team all-tournament selection.

In the semifinal win over Blanchet Catholic, Reiley led the way with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

For Reiley, the state tournament was a crowning moment for a player who, according to Broadous, worked extremely hard to become a good player after struggling on the JV as a sophomore.

Such perseverance exemplified a De La Salle team that finished 27-1 and finally found a way to clear the final hurdle.

Full circle at Pendleton

Columbia Christian, meanwhile, arrived at the top of the 2A ranks sooner than might have been expected.

Coach Bart Valentine's Knights started two freshmen, a sophomore, a junior and a senior. At crunch time at Pendleton Convention Center, they were cool customers on their way to a 65-61 win over top-ranked Western Mennonite.

Western Mennonite's pressure defense bothered Columbia Christian early in the game. But even after Knights junior point guard Dominic Blake fouled out with more than three minutes left in a three-point game, the Knights handled the defense and the moment.

"It was really satisfying because we showed such a high level of discipline and toughness down the stretch with the game on the line," Valentine says. "There is no way early in the season we could have pulled that off because they were after us defensively. We just took care of the basketball and made free throws."GREGG

Down the stretch, freshman Ben Gregg went 4 for 4 from the line, senior Ethan Bishop and freshman Elijah Munyan each hit a pair and freshman Isiah Mariscal one as the Knights converted nine consecutive foul shots to maintain the lead.

A unanimous selection to the all-tournament first team, Gregg had 51 rebounds and broke by 10 boards the previous three-game 2A tournament record. The versatile 6-6 Gregg also finished second in the tournament in scoring (22.3 points per game), first in steals (14 total), second in assists (10) and second in blocked shots (seven).

In the final, Gregg had 23 points, 19 rebounds and three steals. That followed a monster semifinal in which Gregg scored 27 points, grabbed 19 boards and had seven steals, five assists and three blocked shots.

Blake, the 6-0 point guard, was named second-team all tournament.

For Valentine, Saturday was a milestone. It was the first time at any level that the veteran coach has had his team win 30 games in a season. The Knights finished 30-1.

It was also a full-circle experience for Valentine. He won a big-school title as West Linn's coach and guided Warner Pacific to multiple national NAIA tournaments, but still had unfinished business in Pendleton.

As a first-year coach in 1984, Valentine's Colton team lost in the then-Class A final by one point to Imbler at the Pendleton Convention Center. 

"Back then, I'm a young coach and I think, 'I'll fix that here in the next couple of years.' It just took 34 years to go back and fix it," Valentine says.

Given the youth of this Columbia Christian team, he could be enjoying more success in Pendleton soon. But Valentine isn't yet thinking about the future.

"We're just going to savor this season and in a month or so get ready to start building for another one and take whatever happens," he says.

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