The Valiants' 47-39 win over Grant Union on Friday gives the team its second-ever state tournament berth
by: MILES VANCE, GO FOR IT — Valley Catholic senior Dustin Johnson goes up over Grant Union's Tyler Roberts during the Valiants' 47-39 home playoff win Friday night.

BEAVERTON - Valley Catholic's boys basketball team set sail into uncharted waters Friday night, but so far, the Valiants are enjoying the ride.

Valley Catholic, the West Valley League champion, won its first state playoff game in five years Friday, taking out Grant Union 47-39 at Valley Catholic High School, and in the process, earned just the second state tournament berth in the program's 15-year history. Grant Union, the third-place finisher from the Eastern Oregon Conference, ended its season at 9-13.

'It's real exciting,' said Valiant senior Ben Johnson, who came up with a couple important defensive stops in the fourth quarter. 'This is the way we want to go out. It's a whole new experience so we have to deal with it.'

'It's our first state game in five years. It'll be neat for them,' Valley Catholic coach Jeff Gallagher said. 'The nice thing is we're still playing. We're going to go down and try to live it up and have a good time.'

The No. 3 Valiants (21-6) will open the Class 3A state tournament against top-ranked Santiam Christian at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Willamette University in Salem. Santiam Christian (19-4) is the champion of the PacWest Conference.

In Friday's victory, the Valiants led just 36-34 after Prospector senior Chance Ferguson drained a three-pointer from the right corner with 4 minutes, 56 seconds left in the game, but Valley Catholic took off from there.

Grant Union scored on just one of its next six possessions while the Valiants got a putback from Andy Haugen and then salted the game away at the foul line, hitting 7-of-8 free throws in a span of 1:01, that streak capped by two Haugen makes for a 47-36 edge with just 23 seconds remaining.

'At the huddle in between the third and fourth quarters, we realized it could go one way or another,' said Haugen, who led his team with 13 points. 'We knew which way we wanted to go because we've worked at this for four long years.'

Chris Kiefer added seven points and Michael Lyon six for Valley Catholic, while Grant Union's Ferguson led all scorers with 14.

For more details and photos, please see Thursday's edition of the Beaverton Valley Times.

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