Two weeks after leaving the C.E. Jeffers Center in Salem with broken hearts, the Southern Oregon men’s basketball team will look to return the favor tonight as it comes back for a semifinal game against Corban in the Cascade Conference Championships presented by U.S. Bank.
The sixth-seeded Raiders (20-10) and fourth-seeded Warriors (21-8) have a history of going down to the wire: Of their last 11 matchups, nine have been decided by six points or fewer and three have gone to overtime. But they produced their wildest finish yet on Feb. 8, when the Warriors hit one buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime and another to force double-OT before winning 94-92.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Corban has won eight of its last nine games — including two overtime victories and one OT loss — and will be hosting a semifinal for the first time since 2002.
Quarterfinals In Review
On Wednesday in Eugene, SOU knocked off third-seeded Northwest Christian, 78-77, as Tyrus Hosley’s 35-footer went off the backboard as time expired. The Raiders trailed by 13 just 10 minutes into the game but climbed back in it thanks in large part to Tez Allen and Tate Hoffman, who combined for 21 points before halftime to cut the deficit to one. Trailing 46-43 in the second, they staged a 20-3 run highlighted behind Tristen Holmes’ three consecutive 3-point makes. Holmes, a senior guard, finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, while freshman guard Teron Bradford went for 12 points and 10 boards.
Meanwhile in Klamath Falls, Northwest (Wash.) eliminated top-seeded Oregon Tech 78-75 with a dominant night from posts Hussayn Ford (25 points, 11 rebounds) and Josh Meyer (19 points). In Salem, Corban hung on for an 80-75 win over Eastern Oregon as AJ Hodges scored 19 to lead four Warriors in double figures and the Mountaineers missed a potential game-tying shot with five seconds left. And in Caldwell, College of Idaho ran Warner Pacific out of the gym, 96-61, in a rematch of last year’s title game.
Because the tournament is re-seeded after the quarterfinal round, Northwest will visit second-seeded College of Idaho and try to become the second No. 8 seed to advance to the championship in three years. SOU goes to Corban, and both games start at 7 p.m. local time. The winners will play the final at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a game that will air live on Root Sports Northwest and decide who gets the CCC’s second automatic bid to the NAIA Division II National Tournament. The highest remaining seed will host.
The Raiders had to win on the road to get to their last two championship games, in 2013 and ‘15. They’re in the playoff for the 14th time in 15 seasons but are seeking their first title since 2005. They were also in the semifinals last year and were eliminated at top-seeded C of I. Corban has won the tournament twice — in 2017 as the first No. 8 seed to do it and in 2002, when it defeated SOU in the final. The teams’ last postseason meeting was in 2016, a 71-68 Raider quarterfinal win in Ashland.
SOU experienced one of its shooting night of the season in this year’s first matchup, a 66-61 loss on Jan. 12. They Raiders hit on just 29 percent of their field-goal attempts and fell behind 13-0, but managed to get within two points with two minutes to go before the Warriors put them away behind Jaxon Hughes’ 16 points. On Feb. 8, Corban’s Tyler Wadleigh hit a one-footed runner from just beyond the arc at the end of regulation and AJ Hodges stepped back for a contested 26-footer that tied the game again at the end of the first OT. Hodges also hit the go-ahead jumper with 11 seconds left in the second OT, finishing with 28 points. Before this season, SOU had won 12 of the last 13 head-to-head matchups.
Holmes had been 15-of-83 from 3 this season before the second half of SOU’s regular-season finale against Eastern Oregon. He’s now hit eight of his last nine attempts from deep, making four against both EOU and NCU. The senior has scored in double figures in all but five games this season, ranking among the league leaders in points (16.6) and assists (3.5).
Bradford has averaged 13.3 points in SOU’s last 12 games, turning it on down the stretch of his freshman season. He led the Raiders with 22 in their last game against Corban and is coming off his first double-double.
In their last seven wins, the Raiders have gotten an average of 34.6 points from their bench. In their last four losses, they’ve gotten an average of 13.8.
AJ Hodges, a junior transfer from South Puget Sound C.C., posts 15.8 points per game for a Corban team that led the CCC in field-goal percentage (47.8). The Warriors’ frontcourt of Beau Roggenbach (11.2 points, 9.5 rebounds) and Joel Johnson (11.2, 5.9) is one of the CCC’s most prolific.
The Warriors are 12-3 at home, but have only lost once in Salem since mid-December.