Baker City — They faced stiff competition at the start against Prairie City, cruised with Trout Lake, and got their toughest test of the playoffs on Friday against North Douglas. It would require solving the Warriors boa constrictor type defense, which has suffocated opponents all season, and in the end just executing better than North Douglas to get a rematch with Crane for the state title. Just like they believed they could, the Eagles are headed to the 1A state championship for their date against the Crane Mustangs on Saturday night in Baker City.
Scoring was hard to come by in the early minutes, as Damascus Christian and North Douglas traded paint en route to 6-4 Eagles lead with 2:29 left in the opening quarter. Leading 6-5 with less than a minute left, the Eagles got buckets from Sierra Hale and Emily Powers to get a 10-5 lead for Damascus Christian after one quarter of play. Damascus Christian would pick up where they left off in the first, cranking out a 6-0 run courtesy of Laelie Rasmussen and Julia Mitchell, giving the Eagles a double-digit advantage 16-5 against the Warriors. Brooke McHaffie would snap the run with a bucket that brought it back to single digits, and McHaffie would hit another late in the second to make it 18-10 Damascus Christian. Mitchell’s free throws in the final minute gave the Eagles a ten-point lead 20-10 at the half against North Douglas.
Halfway through the game, Damascus Christian had a balanced attack consisting of Sierra Hale, Julia Mitchell, and Laelie Rasmussen each having six points for the Eagles. Brooke McHaffie led the Warriors with eight points at halftime. North Douglas got a shot of momentum to open the second half, opening up on an 8-0 run fueled by McHaffie, Cydni Dill, and Asia Ward to make it a 20-18 game with 5:52 left in the third. Rasmussen and Hale snapped the streak with a free throw and layup, getting the Eagles back out in front 23-18. Ava Mai joined the Eagles run with a bucket and Mitchell added another to cap a 7-0 Damascus Christian run to take a 27-18 advantage with 2:52 left in the third.
Trailing by nine, Samantha MacDowell drilled a trey to get North Douglas back within six points 27-21, and MacDowell would hit three free throws with seven seconds left in the quarter to close within 29-25 after three quarters at Baker. The Eagle trio came back out to make it 33-25 and milking three minutes off the clock, putting pressure on North Douglas to make a big move. Asia Ward hit a pair of free throws to make it 33-27, just to have Rasmussen strike back with a bucket and two free throws to give Damascus Christian a 37-27 lead with 3:41 left. North Douglas stayed in the battle, gaining five points from Brooklyn Williams free throws and a MacDowell trey to close within 37-32 at the 2:30 mark in the game. Now trailing 41-34 with less than two minutes left, North Douglas got another big shot from MacDowell to get within 41-37 of Damascus Christian.
North Douglas would have plenty of opportunities to close the gap with Damascus Christian having issues with free throw execution down the stretch, but the Eagles would hang on to advance and play Crane for the 1A title on Saturday night 44-39. Despite her best efforts, Brooke McHaffie’s double-double wasn’t enough to get the Warriors to the 1A title game, instead getting a date with Country Christian in the third-place game on Saturday afternoon. Laelie Rasmussen and Sierra Hale both had 12 and 11 points respectively for Damascus Christian, Samantha MacDowell led all scorers for 15 points for North Douglas on the evening.