Cascade Christian uses defense to advance to state-regional round

Boys BASKETBALL: Cougars conquer both Lynden Christian and Vashon Island at tri-district

of the HeraldFebruary 26, 2014 

Cascade Christian’s Jesse Howells hustles to grab a loose ball during a 62-59 overtime victory against the Lynden Christian Lyncs on Wednesday in a loser-out district playoff game.

MIKE CENTIOLI/COURTESY PHOTO

Just six weeks ago the Cascade Christian boys basketball team was near the bottom of the Class 1A Nisqually League at 2-8.

Now the Cougars have won 10 of their last 13 games, and they upset the Vashon Island Pirates 45-43 on Friday night at Mountlake Terrace High School in Seattle to clinch a spot in the state-regional round.

Cascade Christian will be the No. 4 seed from the tri-district tournament and will play Woodland in a winner-to-state, loser-out game at 8 p.m. Friday at Mark Morris High School.

Last Friday, the Cougars’ Jordan Tveter scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the first half against Vashon Island.

Cascade Christian head coach Jerry Williams said this team is special.

“I’m proud of this team as much as I have been any other team I’ve ever had, and that is including our state-championship teams,” he said. “This team has just picked themselves up and is playing great basketball right now.”

Williams said Tveter played a complete game on both ends of the floor.

“Jordan has the assignment of guarding Jesse Norton, who is Vashon’s best player,” Williams said. “He did a great job on him.

“Jordan is such a catalyst for us. He just sets the tone and always guards the best scorer on the other team. He has turned into such a phenomenal defender. His feet are just so quick.”

The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.

“We controlled the game from start to finish,” Williams said. “We were never behind. Our defense just controlled the game.”

Williams said defense has helped his team get on this late-season push.

“Early on, our guys were so focused on playing such hard defense in their own little silos,” he said. “It wasn’t that they were selfish, it was that they wanted so badly to be good. We needed to get out of our individual silos and play as a team. We’ve done that.

“We had to start thinking broader, and now our guys are thriving with team defense and applying the fundamentals of the game tremendously. Even when we had a losing record, our guys were working their tails off. We did a lot of tough defensive drills at practice, and they never complained and just kept going at it.”

Williams said the Cougars’ offensive sets feed off their defense.

“It’s carried over to the offensive end,” he said. “We’re working the ball around and are playing really well. We’re just playing great as a team all the way around.”

COUGARS UPSET LYNCS AT TRI-DISTRICT

The Lynden Christian Lyncs spent most of the season ranked in the top 10 in the 1A classification, but Cascade Christian walked away with a 62-59 overtime triumph last Wednesday in a loser-out tri-district game at Cascade Christian High School in Puyallup.

Williams said his team is peaking at the right time.

“We’re playing the best basketball we have all year right now,” he said. “We are really turning it on. This win was one of the biggest wins in our program’s history. We have had a lot of big wins, but that ranks right up there.

“I’m awfully proud of these guys. It was an amazing win for our team.”

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