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The Eagles connect on three straight deep balls to pull off a playoff come back

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Damascus Christians Jacob Zakharyuk drives the baseline during the Eagles 44-41 playoff win over North Douglas on Friday. He hit the winning 3 with 0:45 left.

Second-round playoff

Team Score
#2 Damascus Christian Eagles
North Douglas Warriors

The Damascus Christian boys basketball team had its backs against the wall, down seven points with 1:39 to play in Friday's 1A playoff game against North Douglas.

Eagles' coach Brad Patrick called a timeout and had a simple message for his squad — just keep shooting.

"We were pretty high energy and knew we could make a comeback, but down seven with 90 seconds left it gets tough to stay positive," Damascus point guard Jonathan Shields said.

What ensued was North Douglas missing three consecutive free throws, while Damascus turned each into a 3 at the other end.

In less than a minute, the Eagles found themselves in the lead.

Shields started the comeback surge with a step-back 3 from the top of the arc. Moments later, Shields found Sam Titchenal in the corner for another long ball.

Damascus was back at it on its next trip with Shields flipping the ball behind him to Jacob Zakharyuk, who buried the winning shot from two steps behind the arc with 0:45 left.

"I filled in behind, got the pass and it worked out," Zakharyuk said. "My shot was off all night, but coach told me to keep shooting, and I hit the one that was the most important."

"Hitting back-to-back-to-back 3s put all the pressure on them," Patrick said.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Damascus Christians Spencer Powers drives into the lane during the fourth quarter.

North Douglas had a chance to tie the game when its leading scorer Caleb Parks started a drive into the lane, but he only got one dribble on the floor when Jason Budey reached out and swiped loose a steal for Damascus.

"I stuck my hand out, swiped up, got lucky and got the ball," Budey said.

Budey missed a foul shot, but Titchenal stretched out to pull in the long rebound giving the Eagles another chance at the line.

The teams combined to miss eight free throws in a row down the stretch before Shields ended the streak by making the first of two with 5.5 seconds left — a make that forced North Douglas to attempt a 3 on its final shot.

Parks brought the ball into the offensive zone and fired a cross-court pass to Killian Bond, who bobbled the ball and ended up having to chuck it to beat the horn. The ball came nowhere close to the hoop, and the home crowd broke into chants of 'Baker City.'

Damascus (25-2) is the No. 2 seed for this week's 1A state tournament in Eastern Oregon, playing in Wednesday's late quarterfinal game at 8:15 p.m. against Skyline champ Days Creek (21-5).

"We graduated six seniors and a lot of these guys were coming off the bench last year, so just getting to Baker City is a monumental task," Patrick said. "These kids have already exceeded most peoples expectations."

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Damascus Christians Jason Budey attacks the hoop.

Damascus held the upper hand through most of the first half with Zakharyuk firing a cross-court pass to Budey, who spun an open 3 through the net. North Douglas responded with an air ball at the other end, and the Eagles zipped back down the floor. This time Zakharyuk received a pass in the corner, his heels dangerously close to the sideline, where he launched another deep ball over a defender for a 24-16 lead.

Damascus maintained its edge in the third quarter, highlighted by Nate Bogdan going up amidst three red shirts to pull down an offensive rebound before pivoting in a full circle to find a crease to the hoop for two points.

The Eagles' next trip saw Shields swing around the left side before pulling up ahead of two defenders and knocking down a 12-foot jumper.

North Douglas began whittling into the lead late in the third and into the fourth with inside buckets by 6-foot-6 center Justin Smith that got the visiting crowd stomping in the bleachers leading up to the wild finish.

View photos at ...

This story is slated for our Tuesday, Feb. 26, print edition.

N. DOUGLAS 12 7 9 13 — 41

DAMASCUS 4 20 8 12 — 44

North Douglas (41) — Caleb Parks 13, Smith 8, Parks 8, Frieze 6, Gerrard 5, Bond 1.

Damascus Christian (44) — Jonathan Shields 18, Zakharyuk 10, Budey 6, Bogdan 4, Titchenal 3, Powers 3, L. Nelson.

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