Yes, they do play basketball east of the mountains in Oregon.
Earning the first title for any school east of the Cascade mountains in the
state since 1931, Redmond (OR) HS won the 2003 OSAA 4A State Championship by
defeating Hillsboro (OR) HS, 50-47, in front of 6523 at Memorial Coliseum in
"This proves that there is competition on that side of the mountains," said
Redmond star junior forward Maarty Leunen. "We proved that this year, and
hopefully other teams have seen that you can do it if they just play hard ball
like we do."
Redmond, which entered the tournament ranked #1 in the state, used stifling
defense and ball control to take care of the Spartans, who had been the
tournament's darlings thanks to their spirited play. The Panthers took control
from the very beginning, working on getting the ball in the paint. Behind
Leunen (eight points) and senior forward Sam Huston (10 points), the Panthers
were in control, leading by six, 25-19 at halftime. Redmond had also managed
to contain Hilhi junior point guard James Loe, who only had four points on
2-for-8 shooting in the half.
But Hilhi, who had been making comebacks all week long, was going to fight all
the way until the end. Out of the locker room, the Spartans, behind Loe, went
off on a 9-1 run to take a 28-26 lead midway through the third quarter.
Redmond, which had used late third period runs to put away opponents in their
previous three games, finally woke up and put together their own 7-0 run,
capped off by a jumper from senior guard Joe Billings with 1:42 left in the
period. But unlike Redmond's other opponents however, Hilhi would not wither
away, and a Loe drive at the end of the quarter pulled the Spartans to within
The teams were neck and neck in the early stages of the fourth quarter, before
consecutive baskets by Leunen and Huston pushed Redmond's lead out to 40-36
with 4:35 to go. It's here that the Panthers started struggling with their
free throw shooting. Redmond missed four consecutive free throws over their
next two possessions, and a three-pointer by Hilhi senior guard Tomas Mosqueda
at 3:05 pulled the Spartans to within one, 40-39. Redmond recovered as
Billings converted on a drive, and a made free throw by Huston. But Hilhi came
back again, as Loe found junior guard Vinny Zanrosso on the wing for an open
three, and Hilhi was back within one, 43-42, with 2:05 left.
But that would be Hilhi's last gasp. Leunen converted on a drive, and after a
Loe three-point miss, Billings was fouled and made both free throws. Loe came
back and scored an acrobatic layup with 42 seconds to make it 47-44, but
Redmond converted enough free throws down the stretch - grabbing the offensive
rebounds when they would miss - to seal the title.
Leunen finished with 18 points and ten rebounds, his third double-double of the
tournament. Huston added 13 points, and Billings had eight points, six
rebounds, and six steals. Hillsboro was led by Loe's 18 points and six
assists, but the point guard was limited to 3-for-10 shooting from behind the
three-point line, 7-for-19 from the field overall.
"We wanted to make him earn his buckets," said Billings.
Redmond shot 44.4 percent (16-for-36) from the field, and survived despite
shooting 46.9 percent (15-for-32) from the free throw line. Hillsboro was held
to 37.8 percent (17-for-45) shooting overall, 22.7 percent (5-for-22) from
Leunen and Loe were unanimous selections to the All-Tournament First Team,
while Mosqueda made the All-Tournament Second Team. Loe led the tournament in
scoring, averaging 24.3 points over four games.
Redmond finished the season with a 25-3 overall record, while Hillsboro
completed the year at 18-13.
While the season didn't end with a win for Hilhi, it was an impressive run by
"Just getting here, that meant a lot," said Loe. "But they played a heck of a
And that was the bottom line as Redmond brought back home to Central Oregon
their first-ever title.
"I couldn't be prouder of our kids," said Redmond head coach Kelly Bokn.
"They've been so resilient all year. To be picked #1 and to have teams coming
at you all the time... the kids came through."
Jed Tai is a Senior Writer with Hoopville.com