Rasmussen And Powers Clutch Free Throws Push #2 Damascus Christian Over #1 Country Christian 44-41

Molalla — #1 vs #2 in the state is always exciting, but when the teams are league rivals and grow up against one another, it just adds a whole other layer of excitement to the game. The Valley 10 League hosts two of the best teams in Class 1A from Country Christian and Damascus Christian, a pair of battle tested programs who have pulled off their fair share of big wins this season. Damascus went out to Burns and snapped Crane’s 47 game winning streak 55-54, a huge resume booster for the Eagles and establishing their contention for state. Country Christian has a plethora of big dubs, but perhaps their biggest being a three-point win over defending 2A champion and #1 Gervais back in December. The game script wasn’t Hollywood made, but it definitely lived up to the hype!

Damascus Christian got off to a hot start, seizing an early advantage on Country Christian through an Emily Powers trey and some buckets by Laelie Rasmussen. The Cougars jumped on the back of Annie Bafford to get them going, with Bafford putting up eight points in the opening quarter. Damascus Christian held an early 14-10 lead after a quarter of play, with middle Elizabeth Grandle picking up three fouls for Country Christian and landing on the bench. Without Grandle on the floor, Damascus Christian went on the attack in the post. The Eagles were held down to eight points in the second quarter, but they went after it down low on each of the buckets, exposing the weakness from Grandle being in foul trouble. Country Christian didn’t fare much better, hitting only one field goal to close the half and trailing Damascus Christian 22-15 at halftime. Bafford led Country Christian with 11 points, Sierra Hale led Damascus Christian with 9 points at the half.

After a slow ending to the first half, both teams came out opening fire to start the second half. With Grandle back in the game, Country Christian tried to retake the paint back from Damascus Christian, as Grandle came back out with six points in the third quarter after being out for almost ten minutes of action. The trio Powers, Hale, and Rasmussen kept to the script for Damascus Christian, pushing the Eagles lead to 35-25 after three quarters behind forced turnovers and better execution overall. With Damascus Christian in command, it seemed that the Eagles would close out without a problem, but that isn’t how this script would play out. Behind their game leader Annie Bafford, the Cougars began mounting a comeback that got the atmosphere from low energy to popping their heads off in excitement. Bafford started going straight up Diana Taurasi, drilling back-to-back treys that cut the lead from ten to four in a matter of a minute and some change. After trading buckets, Country Christian would find the range with Bafford again, tying the match up at 41 all with a bit over a minute remaining.

With a shooting foul, Rasmussen found herself with a pair of free throws in a tied game and 45 seconds remaining. She would miss the first and hit the second, giving Damascus Christian the lead back 42-41. Country Christian went down the floor and got nothing but a bag of magic beans, giving the Eagles a chance to seal the deal with another possession and the lead. With 15 seconds left, the officials called five seconds on Hale, giving Country Christian possession in a one-point game and 15 seconds remaining. However, it was overturned after a referee discussion and Damascus Christian would retain the ball. Hale would throw it in to her PG Emily Powers, who drilled two in a row with 10.9 left to ice the game and propel #2 Damascus Christian past #1 Country Christian 44-41 on the road. Sierra Hale and Emily Powers led Damascus Christian with 14 and 13 points respectively, while Annie Bafford had a game high 21 points for Country Christian.

Game Takeaways

Damascus Christian: It almost slipped away from them, but the Eagles finished the job after faltering their double-digit lead. The offensive distribution was excellent between Hale, Powers, and Rasmussen, as they all finished with double-digit points in the game. This will be important in the 1A playoffs, as having multiple scoring threats is obviously harder to contain than a team that is centric around a single player. Their defense was solid throughout, even when Gafford was breaking out her range extender in coverage. Also, kudos to them for getting Grandle in foul trouble, but their execution could’ve been better during that stretch of time. Overall, a very good game by the Eagles and they cement their new #1 ranking come Sunday.

Country Christian: Losing Grandle hurt, but it didn’t play as much of a role as I originally thought. For the Cougars, they weren’t making the best decisions on offense to make up for their loss and it ultimately cost them down the stretch. Country Christian didn’t play badly even with their lackluster execution; they were just straight beaten in a game of chess with a great team. Even with the mediocre play, Gafford almost won the game for them with her Taurasi genes down the stretch. The Cougars are still 1A contenders after this, but definitely need to study this game and make adjustments to build on from it. The rematch will definitely be interesting to watch on February 1st.

What’s Next?

Damascus Christian (9-1, 3-0) play Open Door Christian on Saturday, Country Christian (8-3, 2-1) plays a “road” game at home against St. Stephen’s Academy on Monday.

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