PENDLETON — All season long, the No. 2 Stanfield boys basketball team was known for its hyper-speed pace-of-play and an engine that continuously drove the team to victory after victory, all the way to the 2A state championship game.
But in Saturday’s championship game at the Pendleton Convention Center against the No. 4 Santiam Wolverines, that engine finally ran out of gas.
The Wolverines, powered by the sibling duo of Julian and Jonah Downey, outscored Stanfield 20-10 in the fourth quarter to pull out the 57-54 victory over the Tigers to claim the schools’ first state championship since 1974. The Downey brothers combined for 54 of Santiam’s (24-4) 57 points on 18-31 shooting (58 percent) to carry the load for Santiam.
“Those brothers are awesome players,” Stanfield coach Jason Sperr said afterwards. “Their whole team was solid, but yeah Julian hit some huge shots ... it was a great game and both teams played pretty hard.”
The game was close from start to finish with a total of 15 lead changes and five ties. Santiam scored the first points of the game on a fastbreak lay-in by Jonah Downey, and then Stanfield (22-2) took its first lead at 9-8 with 4:33 left in the first and would eventually hold a 17-14 lead after one.
After a back-and-forth second quarter, the Tigers began to gain momentum in the third quarter. Santiam had tied the game up at 37-37, but then Stanfield went on a 7-0 run over the final 3:30 of the third to hold its largest lead of the game at 44-37 heading to the fourth quarter.
At that point, excitement began to build amongst the Stanfield crowd as just eight minutes stood between the Tigers and their first state championship. However, that’s when Julian Downey took over.
Downey hit a 3-pointer just 10 seconds in to cut the deficit to four, and then with four minutes left he nailed another 3-pointer to put his Wolverines on top 47-46. Stanfield then re-took the lead at 48-47 and 50-49 on back-to-back makes by Dylan Grogan, and then Downey hit another 3-pointer and was fouled by Thyler Monkus for a 4-point play to put Santiam on top 53-50 with 2:21 left and keep them on top for good.
Downey finished with 15 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter on 4-6 shooting and 4-5 at the free throw line.
For Stanfield, the Tigers offense simply fell flat in the fourth. The team made just 4 of 13 shots in the quarter and couldn’t get any bounces to fall their way.
“I think we were a little stagnant,” Sperr said of his team. “We just didn’t quite get ball movement and movement in general like we typically do. I don’t know exactly, we probably should have had them more prepared.”
Stanfield had a chance to tie at the game at the end, however Ryan Bailey’s off-balance 3-pointer clanked off the rim as the buzzer sounded, sending the Wolverines and their fans into pandemonium.
Grogan was Stanfield’s leading scorer with 16 points to go with eight rebounds, but the rims were not being kind to the 6-4 senior as he made just 4 of 17 shot attempts, many of which bounced in and out. Behind Grogan, Monkus had 10 points and a pair of banked-in 3-pointers, which helped earn him one of the two Player of the Game honors.
While Sperr admitted afterwards that it may take a while for the team to accept being runner-up, he knows the season that the Tigers put together and finishing second out of 42 schools in Class 2A is a tremendous accomplishment.
“It was an incredible season and these guys worked their tail ends off to get here,” Sperr said. “They deserved the opportunity and then took it and gave it all they had and just came up a tiny bit short. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys and they’ll go a long ways in life and I’m excited to watch that.”
Simeon Hess, Western Mennonite; Jonah Downey, Santiam; Julian Downey, Santiam; Zeke Quinlan, Life Christian (unanimous); Dylan Grogan, Stanfield (unanimous).
Joel Snyder, Oakridge; Ryan Bailey, Stanfield; Clay Sullivan, Vernonia; Brett Elliott, Vernonia; L. Dalzell, Columbia Christian.
SANT 14 12 11 20 — 57
STAN 17 13 14 10 — 54
SANTIAM — Ju. Downey 33, Jo. Downey 21, A. Fawcett 2, N. Butler 1, J. Fawcett, R. Nicot.
STANFIELD — D. Grogan 16, T. Monkus 10, J. Garcia 9, B. Woods 6, T. Flores 6, R. Bailey 4, E. Angel 3, J. Galarza.
3-pointers — SANT 5, STAN 4. Free throws — SANT 14-19, STAN 12-16. Fouls — SANT 16, STAN 20. Fouled out — T. Monkus (STAN).
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