After winning the Greater Spokane League title for the first time this century, the Central Valley boys set their sights on the next step: a District 8 title.
Friday night at a packed University High gym, the Bears achieved that goal. Emphatically. And easily, building an 18-point first-half lead and rolling past Gonzaga Prep, 64-44.
Central Valley (19-3 and winners of 16 consecutive games) moves on to regionals next weekend while Prep (15-7) will have to return to U-Hi tonight to face Ferris for the district’s second berth in next week’s regionals.
“We’ve just got guys who can put it in the hole,” said CV guard Austin Rehkow, who led the Bears with 17 points and eight rebounds, of the Bears’ formula. “We’re an unselfish team and we take pride in that.”
All those attributes showed in the deciding stretch, which came early, as in the second quarter.
After Prep’s T.J. Bracey canned a 10-foot jumper to cut CV’s lead to 16-11, the Bears turned up the heat on both ends.
Defensively, they allowed the Pups just a lone free throw in their next 11 possessions. On the other end, CV was just as effective, with Rehkow and reserve post Beau Byus, playing because starter Anthony Brommer was in foul trouble, splitting eight points in what would become a 14-1 run.
“He hasn’t been playing a lot just cause of matchups,” said CV coach Rick Sloan of the 6-foot-6 sophomore Byus. “He was fantastic.”
As was the Bears defense.
“We moved our feet really well and got those defensive boards,” said Byus, who had four rebounds to go with his eight points.
Though the Bullpups would get within 12 at halftime, they never got that close again until an 8-0 run to start the fourth. That seemed to flip a switch with CV and the Bears responded with four 3-pointers on their next four possessions.
Central Valley hit 7 of its 11 second-half 3-point attempts as G-Prep mixed in some zone with its usual man-to-man.
The game started more than a half-hour after its scheduled 8:30 tipoff time but that didn’t seem to bother either team. It was 9-7 Prep about 4 minutes in, then CV put together eight unanswered points. It was an omen.
Bracey led Prep with 12 points with Ryan Gregory adding nine and a team-high six rebounds.
But this was Central Valley’s night and Sloan was grateful. The road to Tacoma is much harder for the Bullpups, who won the State 4A title there last season.
“It was pretty important,” Sloan said of the victory. “Otherwise we would be playing (today) and potentially Tuesday. It is one step closer to getting where we want to go.
Time to set the Bears’ sights on a new goal.
Ferris 56, Lewis and Clark 53: Cody Benzel scored 16 points and Chris Wilson added 14 as the Saxons (15-7) rallied in the fourth quarter and beat the Tigers (12-10) at University.
Nathan Galgalo hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth, as Ferris outscored Lewis and Clark 16-9 to earse a four-point third-quarter deficit.
Jeff Livingston scored 17 points for the Tigers, who were eliminated.
Ferris will play Gonzaga Prep tonight at 5:30 at University in a loser-out game. The winner will play in a regional play-in game on Tuesday night.