HARRISBURG — Santiam Christian found a way to play the game at its tempo and forced Harrisburg to adjust.
Harrisburg, having fallen one game short of the state tournament a year earlier and being a heavy favorite Friday night, had some jitters.
A 43-point loss to Harrisburg on the same floor early in the season didn’t keep Santiam Christian from making a game of it.
Harrisburg held off a challenge from the visiting Eagles to pull out a 47-38 win to advance to next week’s 3A boys basketball state tournament in Coos Bay and North Bend.
Santiam Christian (11-12) used a 12-4 run that carried into the fourth quarter to close within four on Parker Stutzman’s 10-footer in the key with 4:02 left in the game.
But from there it was the host Eagles (21-5) that carried the momentum. Santiam Christian didn’t score again until the final minute, when Harrisburg had built its lead back to eight.
“I felt like we did not play very well tonight, and I think if we did not have the athletes that we have and some kids willing to make some plays we might have lost that game,” Harrisburg coach Tim Yokum said. “They’re obviously a much better team that when we played earlier in the season. We at least knew that the way they had played some other teams in the state.”
Harrisburg will play Blanchet Catholic in a state quarterfinal at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at North Bend High. The Cavaliers defeated visiting Oregon Episcopal 68-63 on Friday.
Down four midway through fourth, Santiam Christian had turnovers on two straight possessions before Harrisburg’s Tel Jones scored on an offensive putback with 1:37 left.
Alonzo Ranch made two free throws to give Harrisburg an eight-point lead with 24 seconds remaining.
Stutzman then hit a 3-pointer – his team’s first points since his previous basket – with 17 seconds left.
Harrisburg went 2-6 at the free-throw line, including a miss on the front end of an one-and-one opportunity, in the last four minutes until Jones and Joey Knox made two apiece to ice the game to send the team to the tournament for the first time since 2014.
“We have a ton of talent. We’ve just got to put the pieces together and have fun with each other,” said Harrisburg’s Logan Oakerman, who had a team-high 11 points.
Ranch added 10 points, while Jones and Hunter Knox had 10 apiece.
Stutzman had a game-high 13 points and teammate Steven Kontra 12.
Yokum said Jones, a senior guard, was a bit off his game offensively and that might have trickled down to the team as well.
Santiam Christian coach Dennis McLain said his team knew it would be a difficult game but one they thought they could get.
A month earlier, SC had shown its potential with a 10-point win against Amity, a West Valley League opponent also headed to the state tournament.
“They fought hard tonight. They have all year,” McLain said of his team. “Our defense was working pretty good tonight.”
Santiam Christian held Harrisburg down, as the host team equaled its lowest point total of the season.
Harrisburg led 8-5 after one quarter before SC took the lead on two straight 3-pointers by Patrick Otis and Stutzman.
Harrisburg took the lead for good at 18-17 on Hunter Knox’s basket with 2:55 to go in the first half. That started a 6-0 run that put Harrisburg ahead 22-17 at the break.
The lead was still five when Harrisburg went on a 7-0 run capped by Hunter Knox’s layup off a Ranch assist for a 35-23 lead.