Win over Crosshill sends Horizon to state semis

Hawks win 59-44, play Nixyaawii Friday

BAKER CITY - A business-like, first-round performance Wednesday carried Horizon Christian School into Friday's semifinals of the Class 1A boys state basketball tournament.

The top-ranked Hawks held Crosshill Christian (21-5) to 16 first-half points, en route to a 59-44 win at Baker City High School. Horizon will play former Big Sky rival Nixyaawii Friday afternoon (results were too late for the print edition).

"Well we got the first game out of the way," Horizon Coach Darrin Lingel said matter-of-factly. "It was really important for the guys to come out with a lot of effort.

"Three things we've been focusing on this year have been rebounding, taking care of the ball and running our offense. I thought we did a pretty good job of those overall in the game today."

Mason Bloomster led Horizon (25-3) with 17 points and 16 rebounds. The 6-foot-4 senior post was equally effective at the defensive end, with three blocked shots. The blocks came on Crosshill's 6-5 post Dalton Cubitt, who had all three of his shots rejected by Bloomster and finished with zero points.

"Mason really stepped up for us as he's done all year long," Lingel said of the Big Sky Conference's player of the year. "Another double-double; I thought he stepped up and played very, very well."

Bloomster had plenty of help defensively, especially from senior Ryan Aldrich. He was assigned to guard Crosshill's top scorer Matthew Gille when the Hawks were in a man-to-man defense. Gille finished with nine points, but was 2 for 15 from the field.

Aldrich did his part on the offensive end as well, shooting 3 for 4 from the field and 3 for 3 from the free-throw line for nine points.

Crosshill's most effective offensive production came from long range, as the Eagles made nine three-pointers. Senior guard David Brockman led his team in scoring with 16 points, including four threes. Teammate Ethan Talmage added 12 points — all coming from behind the arc.

Horizon led the entire game outside of a 3-3 tie early on. Horizon's defense forced Crosshill into six first-quarter turnovers en route to a 14-6 lead. Horizon built on the lead in the second quarter behind a balanced scoring attack. Typical of the contributions were those from senior Jared Davis, who scored, had an assist and a steal as the Hawks entered the locker room with a 28-16 advantage.

Davis finished with 11 points, four assists and three steals. His layup with 5:58 remaining gave Horizon its largest lead of the game, 50-33.

"Jared really was involved in the game and got other teammates involved, which is very important for us, especially early in a basketball game," Lingel said.

Horizon enjoyed a sizable scoring advantage inside. Senior wings Nick Andersen and Wes Johnston helped the Hawks outscore Crosshill 34-8 in the paint, with seven and six points, respectively.

"We just know that we can take advantage of the inside game," Lingel said. "Today we were very effective in doing that."

Crosshill from Turner near Salem stayed close behind the long ball throughout the contest. The Hawk defenders were helping off just enough on dribble penetration to give the Eagle shooters the slightest amount of space on kick-out passes.

"We did lose their No. 3 shooter - Brockman ... a few times in the second half," Lingel said. "He got open for some threes. And No. 11 (Talmage) got open and hurt us early with a few threes. We had to make some adjustments in the second half."

Also of note was the play of sophomore reserve Luke Holste, who made the most of his 11 minutes to go 3-for-4 from the field and score six points.

Lingel said: "It's nice to get the first game out of the way — the jitters out of the way — and just play basketball. We look forward to continuing on, one game at a time."

Horizon is pursuing its fourth straight finals appearance. The Hawks won the championship in 2012 (vs. McKenzie) and finished second the past two seasons (to City Christian in 2013 and Columbia Christian a year ago).

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