Crusaders’ Upset Ends Vale Season

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John L. Braese

VALE – The 20th seeded St. Mary’s, Medford rolled into Vale on Wednesday, Feb. 22 and took a 54-46 upset victory over the 13th seeded Vikings.

“That is a much better team than their record shows,” said Vale coach Colby Shira of the Crusaders.

St. Mary’s, Medford started the game quickly, scoring five points before Vale’s Diesel Johnson finally placed the Vikings’ first points on the board at the 5 minute, 58 second mark. The Crusaders built a 19-10 margin by the end of the first quarter of play.

The margin fell by just two point at halftime as St. Mary’s, Medford went into the locker room with a 29-22 lead.

The third quarter was Vale’s turn to place points up and the Crusaders started the quarter without a score for the initial almost four minutes. The Vikings and Crusaders found the game tied at 33 points with 2:31 showing on the clock with the Vikings taking their first lead of the game off a free throw by Johnson, 35-34 at the 2:13 mark. A shot at the buzzer by Vale’s Spur Jacobs sent Vale into the start of the final eight minutes with a 40-38 lead.

St. Mary’s, Medford took the lead back at the 5:18 mark of the fourth quarter and never looked back.

“We turned the ball over all night and did not defend well,” Shira said of the loss.

In the loss, Johnson led all scorers in the game with 19 points. Iziah Shaw finished with seven points and both Luke McGourty and Ethan Mulvaney had six points.

Vale finishes the season with a 15-12 overall record and a 3A Eastern Oregon League tournament championship.

“I like how this team rebounded after a tough 3-7 start to the season playing some good Idaho teams,” said Shira. “We figured out how to win once we got into league and most nights, our defense was solid. From January on, we played like I knew we could most of the time.”

The Vikings will take the court next season with a team heavy on varsity experience. Shaw, Charlie Lamb, Trevor Bates and David Chudleigh will depart due to graduation.

“We have nine kids coming back next year, seven of those will be seniors,” Shira commented. “We know the work we need to do to get to that round of eight teams.”

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