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Late burst puts Damascus back into Class 1A final

BOYS BASKETBALL - The Eagles surge past Powder Valley 61-50 in semis
by: David Ball, Damascus center Matt Best hit the go-ahead shot with less than three minutes to play in the Eagles' 61-50 semifinal win against Powder Valley on Friday night.

The Damascus Christian boys basketball team will try for a repeat Class 1A state title after holding off Powder Valley 61-50 in the semifinals Friday night.

The Eagles needed a late run to put the game away after Powder Valley pulled even 48-48 with three minutes to play. Damascus rose to the challenge with a 13-2 spurt to end the game.

'It was an 'Oh, wow,' moment,' Damascus coach Michael Mai said. 'We had guys in foul trouble, but our other players stepped up and kept fighting.'

Eagles' center Matt Best put the team back in front with a basket underneath. A pair of Powder Valley turnovers ended in back-to-back baskets by Damascus guard Joe Russau, as the Eagles regained control 54-48 with 2:07 on the clock.

Damascus scored on 11 of its last 12 possessions to seal the victory.

The No. 1-ranked Eagles advance to play Mohawk in the championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in Baker City.

Damascus earned a convincing 55-33 quarterfinal win against No. 5-ranked McKenzie to open play Wednesday night.

The Eagles set the tone on defense where Ben Whitrock shut down McKenzie standout Drew Wiley, who has signed to play at the University of Oregon next year. Wiley finished with just five points, converting just 2 of 12 (.167) shots and went 0-for-8 from 3-point range.

Damascus got the bulk of its offense from guard Joe Russau, who overcame illness to score a team-high 21 points.

Extended playoff coverage will be published in the Saturday, March 3, issue of the Gresham Outlook.