(The World Link) COOS BAY -- The Lewis and Clark league was guaranteed at least one team in the Class 3A boys championship game on Saturday, as De La Salle and Portland Adventist met for the fourth time this season. Just as it had in two of their previous three meetings, the game went to the Knights who cruised to a 73-57 victory on Friday afternoon at Marshfield.
The game started off like a shot, but without too many shots actually falling for the first few minutes. The Cougars and Knights attacked the opportunity with gusto, running and gunning up and down the court. But while the Cougars continued to struggle from the field for the rest of the game, De La Salle North Catholic started heating up.
Moving the ball like a chess master moves chess pieces around the board, the Knights always seemed to be two steps ahead.
As they jumped out to a 28-10 lead in the second quarter, one player in particular benefitted from that ball movement. Mike Fesser Jr. shot 8-13 from the field, and two for three from 3-point range, en route to a 24-point game.
Afterwards, the soft-spoken senior said his shots were just coming in the flow of the game, which is how they like to play.
"We play as a team, and just swing to the open man. It's team-ball," he said.
De La Salle head coach James Broadous II said his kids have been moving the ball well all year, but something subtly changed in the last few weeks.
"A lot of times (all of that ball movement) would end up in a 3-point shot," he said. "We decided to make a concerted effort to get the ball to the basket."
That they did, repeatedly, on Friday afternoon. They scored 36 of their 73 points inside the lane.
On the other side, Portland Adventist was led by Trent Torkelson and Kesomi Palaki, who combined for 23 points. The team shot a bit better in the second half, but every time they made a run, it was answered by the Knights.
Cougars head coach Norm Ballou said, in the end, his team just got outplayed.
"Right now, they(De La Salle) are playing red-hot basketball," he said. "We ran into a team on a mission."
The Knights would not disagree with that assessment. After getting a taste of the state tournament a year ago, Broadous said his seniors came back with a goal, and with lessons learned. They even imposed their own ban on taking video games on this trip.
"These guys are focused," he said, "and that starts with this group of seniors."
Fesser said he and his fellow seniors made a championship their goal, and they put their foot down in order to decrease distractions. Now, they are one game away from achieving that goal and he said they have to remain focused.
"It's always going to be harder (in a championship game), at this point the last teams are the best teams in the state."
They will face either Harrisburg, or yet another conference foe in Valley Catholic, in the championship game at 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Portland Adventist will face the loser of that other semifinal game during the third-place game, which will be played at 7 p.m. Saturday, at North Bend High School.
Coach Ballou said he's not sure how his Cougars will bounce back. "I don't really know. I leave it up to my seniors to decide how they want to play and to determine the intensity level of the game."
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