The Greater Spokane League swept all four available berths to 3A state today when North Central’s boys and East Valley’s girls captured the final two during games at Rogers today. Shadle Park boys and girls, the Indians and Knights will play in Tacoma Wednesday-through-Saturday.
Both of today’s games were high-powered and high-scoring. NC won 80-72 over Rogers, EV won 66-63 over Hanford in overtime. Those teams were last in state in 2007.
Here is my unedited story:
By Mike Vlahovich
North Central’s boys and East Valley’s girls continued an odds-defying Region 3A basketball weekend and in high-scoring basketball games earned the Greater Spokane League a sweep of all four Eastern Washington state berths.
After losing to Shadle Park for the fourth straight time this year in Friday night’s regional championship, the Indians (15-11) on Saturday at Rogers did the same to the Pirates, 80-72, and for the third time in five years will compete at state, joining the Highlanders (20-4) next week in Tacoma.
“It wasn’t exactly how I thought it was going to go. We were disappointed in our defense the first half and it was not our game plan to have to score 80 points. But we’ll take it,” said NC coach Jay Webber. “When you play a team four times its hard to beat them (all four).”
The Knights (9-17), in an overtime game that by rights ought not have been necessary, outlasted Hanford 66-63 for their second trip in school history, the first in 2007. Winning without starter Amber Swyers because of her ejection Friday night in the title game, they join Shadle Park (16-8) at state.
“On paper, one quarter a game did us in this year,” said coach Rob Collins of late-surging EV. “I told them to play four quarters – and they didn’t need to be good – to win and it happened.”
Tournament draw is today and competition begins Wednesday.
Region 3A boys
North Central 80, Rogers 72: Defense took a backseat as two electrifying offenses went back and forth. But the game turned when, with 2 minutes, 44 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Rogers scoring leader Deavon Daniels picked up his fourth personal foul and had to sit.
The Indians reeled off 20 straight points for a 66-53 lead. The Pirates (13-13) had been there, done that the day before and mounted a torrid comeback, closing at one point in the fourth quarter to within 68-64. NC made good at the free throw line in the final 2:40 and held on.
In the first half the Pirates kept coming from behind to take leads of as many as six points and led 40-37. The Indians trailed 53-46 in the third quarter before going on the 20-point run that included successive 3-pointers by Jon Smith (his third and fourth of the game).
“I kind of think of myself as a 3-point shooter first,” said Smith, “and I was feeling good today.”
He personifies NC’s scoring diversity. During the regular season, only one player, Isaiah Antoine averaged double figures (barely), so they scored with numbers.
“We’re pretty well balanced and have a lot of athleticism,” Smith said.
So, too, does Rogers, but not the depth off the bench. That, said coach Tim Wood, spelled the difference when Daniels took a seat.
He finished with 20 points, one of four Pirates in double figures. Dillon Franklin and Chris Davis each scored 16 points and Theron Tillett had 13.
NC also had four double-figure performers, led by Antoine (who made five important free throws down the stretch) and Smith with 14 each. The others were Zac Hill (12) and Gunnar Swager (13 off the bench).
Also, point guard Brandon Olsen and 6-foot-8 Lucas Evans each scored 9 and Ed Richardson, also off the bench, was a warrior on the boards and made a key rebound and basket with 1:46 remaining.
“I think that (depth) was the key and it started to show last night,” said Webber. “It will pay dividends, hopefully, at state.”
Region 3A girls
East Valley 66, Hanford 63 (OT): If nothing else, the Knights were resilient. They missed easy layins too numerous to count – “It had to be 15 at least, it might have been a million,” said Collins.
They missed their free throws – eight of nine at one point and finishing 4-for-14, i including two clutch makes by Jenni White in overtime.
And they allowed Hanford rocket launcher Sammi Merry to get free for 25 points, 18 of them on 3-pointers including several remarkable makes.
After blowing an early 17-7 lead and 46-39 advantage late in the third quarter, EV, instead of comfortably ahead, trailed 58-54 with 45 seconds remaining.
White got the game tied 59-59 on a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left and basket with 19 seconds to go (although missing a go-ahead free throw).
In the extra frame she put EV up 62-59 and, following Kimmie Thatcher’s layin that fouled out Falcons scoring leader, 6-foot-2 Laura Hughes, hit two free throws for a 66-61 lead with 45 seconds left that held up in the frantic finish.
“We fought to the end,” said White, who finished with 25 points, 17 in the second half. “We didn’t get frustrated and just kept pounding it in. We didn’t give up.”
Hughes scored 24 points and had 24 rebounds, 18 in the second half and overtime.
“It might be the most points we scored all year,” said Collins, calling a state trip “awesome and a great deal.” It was and every one was needed to get there.