Almira/Coulee-Hartline boys race to win in opener
ACH has RPMs.
One acronym is the abbreviated Almira/Coulee-Hartline’s combination school name, the second refers to its style of basketball.
“Run, pressure defense and mop the glass,” coach Scott Isaak said. “If we do those three things, we can be pretty successful.”
So successful that the Warriors’ (23-1) effort dismantled a previously unbeaten team to open the boys State 1B quarterfinals in the Spokane Arena.
Mt. Rainier Lutheran had come into the tournament a 24-0, but barely scored enough points to cover its win total in the 66-25 beat down by last year’s State 1B runner-up.
It was an efficient performance by the Warriors, against a team with a penchant for perimeter play that led to its own downfall. The Hawks shot 21 percent mainly from afar (10 for 46) and seldom got a second shot given ACH’s 37-23 rebounding advantage and glue-like defense.
Once ACH got its offense going, it was all downhill. Trailing just 15-12 after a quarter, Mt. Rainier scored just 13 more points the remainder of the game.
“We watched a lot of film and (played) a very disciplined team with a fine athlete (Cody Jess) who can score and runs like the Energizer Bunny,” Isaak said. “Defensively, we did a lot of things well.”
Derek Isaak, the coach’s son, took some time to find the range. Once he got going, he poured in 25 points.
And the Warriors’ transition game was a thing of precision, slicing its way to numerous fast-break baskets.
“We like to run a little bit,” coach Isaak deadpanned.
“I liked our defense and I liked our transition.”
Andrew Wolf, a 20-points-per-game scorer, by contrast missed all 11 shots he took thanks to the defense of Jess. Jess missed half the season because of surgery on a football-injured ankle, but fortunately returned to apply the defense and score in double figures.
Isaak and Jess are second-generation small-school state participants.
Scott Isaak played the first year that Almira consolidated with Coulee and Hartline for sports and the team went 1-2 at state.
Jess is son of Wade Jess, a state standout for Waterville.
The Warriors have also benefitted from the addition of Robert Hurka, an exchange student from Slovakia.
“We call him the Slovakian Superman,” coach Isaak said. “He’s only 17 but plays with adults on a city team in a town of 60,000. His dad’s a semipro coach and he has a great motor.”
Giving ACH the ability to rev up the RPMs.