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Damascus Christian sends two teams to Baker City

CLASS 1A BASKETBALL - The Eagles are ranked No. 1 in the boys poll

The Damascus Christian boys basketball team will get a chance to defend its Class 1A state title, but don't tell that to the Eagles' coaching staff.

'We've been telling our players that we aren't defending anything,' Damascus coach Michael Mai said. 'When we go back to Baker City everybody is 0-0, and it comes down to which team can put together the best three games.'

The Eagles have put together a solid three-game run so far in the playoffs, winning back-to-back Valley 10 tournament games, along with Friday's 57-39 blowout against Spray in the state playoffs.

'The postseason is where our kids wanted to be,' Mai said. 'We had a lot of success last year, and now our kids are excited about playing.'

Damascus (24-2) is ranked No. 1 in the most recent Class 1A poll, but will face plenty of challengers in Baker City. The first test will come against No. 5 McKenzie(24-6) in the quarterfinal matchup at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28.

The Damascus girls (24-3) will also make the trip to Baker City after going unbeaten in the Valley 10 League. The Eagles feature just one senior in their regular rotation, but hope to pull of some surprises at state.

'We have so many young kids, we'll be underdogs all the way through,' Eagles' coach Dave Wakefield said. 'But our goal is to win and advance each game. We've had some close calls in the playoffs, so the girls are learning how to deal with that kind of pressure.'

Damascus opens the tournament at 3:15 p.m. Thursday, March 1, against Old Oregon champion Joseph (26-1).

Nightly tournament updates will be available online at www.greshamoutlook.com. Webcasts of the games are available live at www.osaa.org.