Crosshill Christian wearing the glass basketball shoes
Salem-based Eagles playing top-ranked Crane for the 1A basketball crown
It has been quite the basketball journey this winter for Crosshill Christian of Salem. The Eagles—in their fourth straight hoops championship experience in Oregon’s smallest (1A) classification, is in uncharted territory this year—playing Saturday for the state championship against top-rated Crane High at Baker High School.
The 1A classification is made up of a collection of small rural schools and very small religious schools which generally have no football teams, but tend to have strong basketball programs.
This year’s 12 member CC Eagles squad is a team that has been maturing the past several years. In 2022, Crosshill fell to Crane 78-64 in the semifinals, and finished third with a decisive 61-44 win over Powder Valley.
This year, they have marched through higher seeded teams over the past two days. First, the Eagles held off second-seeded Nixyaawii 53-49 in a quarterfinal game Wednesday that was punctuated by scoring runs from both teams. On Thursday, Crosshill avenged a 76-37 loss in December to Open Door Christian Academy—beating the Huskies in the semifinals 51-48.
The Eagles have been directed by the outside offense of Ben Hemelstrand and the inside work of Noah Dallum. Hemelstrand (and his twin brother Kyler) easily can go off for double digits in a game. Ben, a 5-10 junior, has scored 17 and 12 points respectively in the two contests so far. Dallum, a 6-5 senior, pounds the boards relentlessly—and has recorded 26 rebounds in the first two games, in addition to scoring 23 total points. 6-1 junior Zach Wilson also has produced points for his team—with 17 points and 11 rebounds against Open Door.
After beginning as an elementary school in 1992, Crosshill Christian opened a high school in 2009 with nine freshmen boys, and currently has an enrollment of about 100 students. The school has been involved in 19 state championship events, and was honored last year by the OSAA due to its overall excellence in academics, sports, and activities.
Crosshill Christian and Crane will play for the 1A Boys Basketball Championship at 8:45 pm at Baker High School in Baker City.