The moment was not too big for the Dufur Rangers. Many of the players have been on the big stage before in football, but facing No. 3-ranked Life Christian in a hostile environment, on the road, was a new level of challenge.
Trey Darden scored a basket with 1.9 seconds left in overtime, and Max Morelli misfired on his three-quarter court desperation 3-pointer as time expired and the Rangers pulled off the upset, 62-61, in 1A state sub-round hoops action in Aloha.
“It was a pretty great win for us, and it really showed what we can do as a team if we put our minds to it,” Darden said. “With this momentum we have going for us, I don’t think there’s anything we can’t do as a team.”
With the win, Dufur advanced to a second sub-round contest versus No. 4 Crosshill Christian (24-2 overall) Saturday in Salem for the right to secure a Baker City berth.
On Wednesday, the Lions led 25-24 at halftime, but Dufur regained control with a 20-16 third-quarter spurt, as Cooper Bales exploded for 14 points and the trio of Caleb Olson, Darden and Jacob Peters tallied two points apiece.
Both teams were knotted at 49-all with three minutes left in the final frame, and at the 12-second mark, Life Christian (23-3) had possession and missed two potential game-winning attempts.
Dufur (16-11) managed just four fourth-quarter field goals, while Life Christian countered with two baskets and 8 of 10 from the line to tie the score, 54-54, at the end of regulation.
With less than a minute remaining in the extra session, the Lions were up by a 58-56 margin, until freshman guard Josh Taylor drained two pressure free throws to tie the score.
Later, Bales sank 1 of 2 from the line, which moved Dufur ahead by a 60-59 score.
Following a timeout, Morelli had an isolation play called, and he made the basket and drew a foul to inch the Lions ahead, 61-60, but he missed his free throw, so the Rangers pulled down the rebound, pushed the ball downcourt and dished the ball to Darden, who sank the eventual game-winner with 1.9 seconds left.
“Going into the game, I knew our team had what it took, and I think it was just the confidence we went in with that pushed us over the top,” Bales said. “We thought they were going to underestimate us because we were ranked low, which gave us a chip. Now, this makes us feel like we can beat anyone on any night as long as we show up and play hard.”
Dufur totaled 23 field goals, five 3-pointers, and went 11 of 22 from the line, 6 of 12 in overtime.
Bales scored 16 of his team-high 24 points in the second half and had two points in the fourth quarter and none in the extra period.
Peters finished with 12 points, Darden added 11, Taylor and Olson chipped in six each, and Gabe Petroff totaled three points.
“It was a big win, and I learned that we could push through and even push harder in overtime,” Peters said. “The environment at the gym was so loud that it was cool that it didn’t bother us, and we could just keep playing. Overall, this was a big win, and we needed it, and it gives us confidence going into our next game.”
Life Christian hit 22 field goals, five 3-pointers, and drilled 12 of 18 free throws, 11 of 14 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Morelli dropped 20 points, Blake Lambert ended up with 17, and Kobe Jenson, who was whistled for a technical foul in overtime after fouling out, netted 12 points.