FOREST GROVE – No. 3 Cascade battled through five ties and eight lead changes, but a dominate second half on Saturday night propelled the Cougars to a back-to-back state title, topping No. 1 Philomath 61-52 in the OSAA 4A state championship.
Landon Knox led Cascade with 19 points, three rebounds and four assists. Spencer Horne dropped 16 points and three rebounds, Kaiden Ford had nine points and Anthony Best had seven points and six rebounds.
“I’m super proud of them, people doubted this team all year,” Cascade first-year head coach Justin Amaya said. “We weren’t predicted to win league, we weren’t predicted to beat Philomath. Obviously, we weren’t predicted to beat Philomath here again. We continued to step up to the occasion every time.”
Knox scored the Cougars first three points of the night in the first quarter after a Warriors foul. The Warriors regained an 8-7 lead on a three-pointer from junior Preston Kramer.
Horne answered with a buzzer-beater three-pointer to give the Cougars a 12-10 lead.
The Warriors tied it again 12-12 to enter the second quarter and then went on a 8-0 run, eventually extending their lead to 20-15.
Unfazed by the deficit, a three-pointer from Ford, a layup from Best and a free throw from Horne sent the Cougars into halftime with a 21-20 lead.
“We went in the locker room, and we said, ‘We just have to give it our all in this half,” Knox said. “Leave no regrets.”
Philomath last scored a point with just over three minutes left in the second quarter. That all changed when the Warriors opened the third quarter with five straight points to take a 25-21 lead.
The momentum shifted for the Cougars on a layup from Knox and a pair of free throws from Rogue Newton to tie the game 25-25.
The Cougars answered with seven straight points and a three-pointer from Newton and jumper from Knox put Cascade up 43-34 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars secured their biggest – 12 points – with less than five minutes left in the game. The Warriors cut their deficit to nine as the minutes ticked by.
Meanwhile, a roaring Cougar student section started to chant for Ty Best to enter the game with 13 seconds left. Best – one of seven seniors for Cascade – was out for the season on a torn ACL.
“I wouldn’t say it was the ideal ending obviously, but I couldn’t imagine it being any better than this,” Best said. “I’m so proud of my brother (Anthony Best) and my teammates. I’m just so happy right now.”
Contact sports reporter Edith Noriega at ENoriega@gannett.com or on Twitter at @Noriega_Edith.