by: Matthew Sherman, 
Westside Christian’s Michael Rose battles for a rebound against a pair of Vale defenders in the first quarter of last week’s playoff game. The Eagles overcame a slow start to come away with the victory that propelled the team into the state tournament.

The Westside Christian boys basketball team is headed to the state tournament. The Eagles overcame a slow start on Saturday and rallied from an early five-point deficit to knock off Vale 69-57.

The win earned the Eagles a spot in the 3A state basketball tournament at Willamette University.

Westside Christian was favored heading into Saturday's match-up which was held at Concordia University. But it took the Eagles a while to shake off some nerves and play the type of basketball that has been successful for the team all season long.

The Eagles took a quick 6-0 lead in the game but the Vikings quickly stormed back. Vale did a solid job defensively in the first quarter, and was routinely back quickly to prevent Westside's dangerous fast break.

Westside also struggled shooting in the early going and Vale capitalized with a 13-2 run to end the quarter.

The Eagles opened the second period on another 6-0 run to regain the lead. Vale found itself in foul trouble early on and Westside was able to turn missed shots into quick baskets on the other end of the floor.

'When we were able to get out and run we started to pull away,' guard Wade Moyer said.

Midway through the second stanza, Moyer started to make his presence known. When the junior saw an opening he routinely picked his way through the defense to the hoop for lay-ups. He had 15 of his game-high 35 points in the second quarter.

'It's always fun to drive but I'm always looking to hit my teammates for open shots,' Moyer said.

But Westside turned the ball over too many times in the closing minutes of the first half and allowed Vale to close the game to 31-28 at the break.

The Vikings came out aggressively in the third quarter, scoring six straight points to take the lead. However, a big three-pointer by Moyer tied the game again.

Both teams struggled from the line in the game but Vale was particularly poor and it cost them. The Vikings also had two players foul out by early in the fourth quarter, forcing the team to go to its bench.

The Eagles took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter and then started the stanza on an 8-0 run, highlighted by a steal and lay-up from Moyer.

Vale continued to struggle from the foul line and Westside extended its lead. The Vikings could only get as close as eight points as the Eagles were able to hold on for the victory.

'It's one of the best feelings of my life. It's great,' Moyer said.

Westside's first game of the state tournament will be today (Thursday) against Regis, the No. 1 3A team in the state. However, earlier in the year, the Eagles topped Regis 51-50 on a last-second basket. The game will be at 6:30 p.m. at Willamette University.

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