Class 5A consolation semifinals: Bend High vs. Sherwood
When: Today, 10:45 a.m.
Where: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene
EUGENE — It is easy enough for Churchill’s Malik Morgan to impress opposing players, coaches and fans. But when you have your own coach struggling to find superlatives, bouncing from “crazy” to “incredible,” you know you just booked a head-turning performance.
“Just a great player,” Lancers coach Kelly Bokn said while admiring his guard’s stat line. “I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Behind the stellar play of its standout guard, who finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting and just missed a triple-double, Churchill raced past Bend High 70-49 in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A boys basketball state tournament Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
“They could have folded up a tent,” Bend coach Scott Baker said of his players. “The game was getting out of hand, but the kids continued to battle. I challenged them in the fourth quarter to get out there and make sure they competed until the very end, and I was very pleased they were able to do that.”
The dynamic play of Morgan, who racked up nine rebounds and nine assists, took center stage from the opening tip, as the senior point guard erupted for 11 points, five boards and three assists in the first quarter to propel the Lancers of Eugene to a 22-13 lead.
“He did a heck of a job today getting them into things and running the show,” Baker said. “He was a good player tonight.”
Bend senior post Jacob Parsons, who paced the Lava Bears (17-8) with 14 points and five rebounds, conceded that his team would have had to be nearly flawless to upset Churchill.
But the quickness and athleticism of the Lancers, seeded No. 2 in the 16-team postseason field, made performing that task impossible for the No. 7 Lava Bears.
“It’s tough,” Parsons said. “They play a lot of pressure defense. It just didn’t happen tonight.”
Bend committed eight turnovers in the second quarter — seven of which came in the first four minutes and led to eight points for Churchill, which stretched its lead to 32-15.
“I thought our defensive intensity was good,” Bokn said. “We got a lot of tips in the passing lane, which led to steals and got us going a little bit. I thought our quickness definitely had an impact on the game and got them out of their rhythm.”
A 12-2 run to close the third quarter allowed the Lancers go up 61-35, and Bend was not able to recover from there, eventually falling for just the third time in its last 17 games.
Bryan Holliday drilled three 3-pointers to finish with nine points for Bend and Connor Scott chipped in with six points and three boards.
But the Lava Bears were outscored 38-22 in the paint and had 17 turnovers that turned into 18 Churchill points.
“We didn’t handle their pressure very well,” Baker said. “But I was pleased with the way the kids continued to compete.”
David Shedrick had 13 points and five rebounds in helping the Lancers (24-2) to their 20th straight win. Brendan Nesbitt had 11 points for Churchill, which connected on 27 of 54 shots from the field en route to the convincing quarterfinal win and a semifinal date with Madison of Portland tonight.
“I asked these kids to flush it and focus on what to take care of tomorrow morning,” Baker said, referring to Bend’s consolation matchup against No. 6 Sherwood today at 10:45 a.m.
“We’ve got to tuck it away,” Parsons said. “We’ve got to learn from it and just play harder tomorrow.”
Game notes : Two made free throws by Jacob Parsons in the second quarter snapped a Bend scoring drought of 5:39. The Bears did not get make a shot from the field until the 3:03 mark of the second quarter, more than seven minutes after their previous field goal. … Excluding each team’s leading scorer, Churchill’s starting group outscored Bend’s 30-16. … Bokn, the Churchill coach, is a former longtime coach in Central Oregon, where he guided Redmond High School to the state Class 4A (large school) boys basketball championship in 2003.
—Reporter: 541-383-0307, firstname.lastname@example.org .