There was no way Kwinn Hanson was going to miss any more basketball just because he got an elbow sandwich.
“No way,” the 6-foot-5 Northwest Christian junior said after the State 2B semifinal game at the Arena Friday night. “It was a minor thing compared to this game.”
Then he revealed the eight stitches on the inside of his upper lip, which apparently didn’t hurt as bad as it looked.
Of course by then Hanson and the Crusaders (24-2) had held off Bi-County rival Colfax 48-44 to advance to the today’s 9 p.m. championship game against Napavine. The Tigers (23-3) dispatched Bear Creek 53-39.
“I was a little nervous before the game,” said Hanson, who had 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, plus 5-of-7 at the free-throw line and a game-high eight rebounds. “Once the game started, it was just another game. I got lightly hit a couple of times but it wasn’t going to stop me from playing my game.”
He couldn’t say that about the quarterfinal game against La Conner on Thursday. He departed for the hospital midway through the second quarter with blood pouring from his mouth while the Crusaders were locked in a down-to-the-wire battle.
“I could tell I was out. I could feel with my tongue my lip was almost in half,” Hanson said. “I was talking with a friend on the phone getting updates on the game. It was pretty nerve wracking in the waiting room waiting to get stitched up.”
After the Crusaders pulled out the 59-57 win, Hanson knew he was going to play when they faced the Bulldogs for the fourth time this season.
“Nothing could stop me from playing this game,” he said.
With Hanson scoring the first two baskets of the game, Northwest Christian never trailed. Colfax (23-4) only hit 1 of 9 shots in the first quarter, falling behind 14-6. When Hanson scored again it was 20-8 midway through the second quarter.
Then the Bulldogs had a quick 9-0 spurt, started by an Alex Teade 3-pointer and ended by a Teade steal and layup, to make it 20-17. But they could never get over the hump.
“In the first half we weren’t real patient on offense, at least the first quarter,” Bulldogs coach Reece Jenkin said. “Once we started to slow down we were able to get some good shots. It’s hard to crawl out of a hole against a team that good.”
The Crusaders, who beat Colfax for the third time in four meetings, didn’t shoot particularly well, hitting 34.8 percent from the field and just 14 of 21 free throws, although they hit their last seven from the line in the final minute to hold on. They also had 12 turnovers
Cole Ramey led NWC with 19 points but struggled with his shot.
Brandon Gfeller paced Colfax with 13, but he also had trouble finding the range. The Bulldogs ended up shooting just 32.6 percent – 23.8 in the first half – and got whipped on the boards.
“They’re extremely big,” Jenkin said. “Every time we play them one stat sticks out and it’s rebounding. Here it was 45-28. You’re not going to win a lot of games when you get outrebounded that bad.
“The kids played with a lot of heart, we didn’t give up. We have a gutsy group, we just weren’t able to make a couple plays we needed to get some momentum.”