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Champs’ Season Ends At Loretto In Region Quarterfinal

Noah Maddox
Posted 2/26/24

The Cascade Champions were unable to overcome a rough first quarter in Saturday's Region 5-AA Quarterfinal loss, 65-42, at Loretto.

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Champs’ Season Ends At Loretto In Region Quarterfinal


The Cascade Champions were unable to overcome the first quarter loss of senior leader Saebyn Burris on Saturday as they fell to the hometown Loretto Mustangs, 65-42, in the Region 5-AA quarterfinal. 

Head coach Chris Lawson was cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances coming into Saturday after winning seven of their last ten games, but those hopes were quickly dashed when Burris crumpled to the floor on defense after landing awkwardly on his left ankle. Burris was unable to put hardly any weight on his ankle, hobbling off the court with his team already trailing 8-0 with 4:14 left in the opening period. 

Burris’ injury seemed to suck all of the air out of the visitor’s side of the gym, and Loretto took advantage, taking an 18-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. Without their lynchpin on both ends of the floor, Cascade looked shell-shocked by both the intense man-to-man Mustang defense and the deliberate nature of Loretto’s offensive attack.

“It’s just so tough to overcome that kind of start,” Lawson said postgame, “especially when you lose Saebyn that early.”

Burris was coming off of one of his best all-round performances against Community in the District 9-AA consolation game when he finished with a double-double of 13 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.

The visitors seemed to find some signs of life in the second quarter after switching to a full-court zone press to try and speed up Loretto, and it worked for the most part. Kasen Buie, who finished with a game-high 19 points, was held to two points in the first half as he was saddled to the bench with two fouls.

Cascade was able to cut the Loretto lead to single-digits at one point, but it was a 29-16 game going into the halftime locker room after they outscored the Mustangs 15-11 in the second quarter.

However, the offensive struggles from the opening period reared its ugly head in the third quarter as Loretto outscored Cascade 13-9 to take a 42-25 lead into the final frame. 

Isaac McElroy (14) led Cascade with 16 points, but saw his stellar senior season come to a close on Saturday.
Isaac McElroy (14) led Cascade with 16 points, but saw his stellar senior season come to a close on Saturday.

Senior Isaac McElroy, coming off a career-high 36 points in the win over Community, struggled to get free without his running mate Burris out there with him, finishing with only two points in the first half. He started to get going a little bit in the second half, but Cascade could not string together stops against a hyper-efficient Loretto offensive attack.

The Mustangs finished the game shooting a mind-boggling 67.5% from the field as a team, including 15/20 from two and 6/11 from downtown. They also outshot Cascade by a massive margin at the free throw line as well, connecting on 17/23 attempts from the charity stripe compared to Cascade’s three makes on only five attempts.

In the final frame, the result was all but in hand for the District 10-AA runners-up, outscoring the visitors 23-17 in the fourth to win comfortably, 65-42.

Henry Stone (20) goes up for two of his four points on Saturday.
Henry Stone (20) goes up for two of his four points on Saturday.

It was a total team effort from Loretto. Kasen Buie led all scorers with 19 points after he took over with 17 points in the second half, but Jackson Roberson and Mason Tidwell joined him in double figures with 12 points apiece. Clint Seymore chipped in with nine points as well.

Isaac McElroy’s stellar two-year career at Cascade came to a close despite leading the team with 16 points on Saturday. Five other seniors, Burris, Caden Hammonds, Zach Crosslin, Tucker McGee, and Logan Pulley, saw their high school careers end on Saturday as well. 

Hammonds scored six points, Crosslin tallied three points, McGee finished with five points, and Pulley scored two points of his own. Sophomore guards Tyler Rodgers and Henry Stone finished with six and four points, respectively.

Chris Lawson falls to 3-1 in region quarterfinals after suffering his first defeat in this round in his time with Cascade, but expect him and the Champs to be back here competing for a sub-state appearance next season despite losing six seniors.

The Mustangs improve to 20-7 (5-1) and advance to play Cannon County in the Region 5-AA semifinals on Tuesday night in Loretto.

Cascade’s season came to an unfortunate end at 12-17 (4-4), cementing their first losing season in the Lawson era.

Cascade Champions, Loretto Mustangs, Isaac McElroy, Saebyn Burris, Tucker McGee, Caden Hammonds, Logan Pulley, Zach Crosslin