No. 1 Churchill advances to semifinal matchup with No. 4 Willamette after 82-55 victory

    The Churchill Lancers put on a show with an 82-55 blowout win over La Salle Prep in the quarterfinals of the 5A State Tournament on Wednesday. (Photos courtesy of Zachary Neel)

    CORVALLIS, Ore. — The Churchill Lancers left no doubt who the No. 1 team in the 5A Division was on Wednesday afternoon, starting off the OSAA State Tournament with an 82-55 victory over No. 9 La Salle Prep.

    Sophomore Brian Goracke was the driving force on offense for the Lancers, finishing the game with 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting.

    Both Isaiah Wallace and Kaelan O’Neil added 15 points for Churchill in the victory.

    The Lancers jumped out to a 19-13 lead after the first quarter, but it was in the second frame where they really flexed their muscles.

    A 16-2 run over the next several minutes of game time put Churchill up 35-15, led by sophomore Kaelan O’Neil, who had 11 points at the half to lead all scorers. The Lancers went into the break with a 41-21 advantage.

    "I was proud that we came out and established a good defensive presence early and were able to knock down some buckets," said Churchill coach Kelly Bokn.

    To start the second half, Churchill kept their foot on the gas, following the lead of sophomore Brian Goracke, who had the hot hand all game. The lead grew to 31 by the end of the third quarter, with Churchill up 68-37.

    As the final quarter rolled on, the Lancers kept a strong hold on the game. The Falcons were able to cut the lead down to the low-twenties a couple of times, but the game was never in doubt.

    Up next, the Lancers will tip off against a familiar foe, the Willamette Wolverines, in the semifinals on Friday afternoon at Gill Coliseum. The Lancers have won both matchups against Willamette this season, though the second game provided a tough test.

    "The winner of this game [Willamette vs. Thurston] is going to be a formidable opponent, but one that we know," said Bokn. "It’s definitely not going to be easy.

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