As the top seed from the Greater Spokane League to the 3A sub-regional, University High earned a home game Tuesday night.
It turned out they also earned the right to rest their starters.
The Titans dominated visiting Kennewick from midway through the first quarter on, routing the Lions 67-31 in a loser-out battle.
“It’s a win,” said Titans coach Garrick Phillips, who played every player who suited up for multiple minutes in the second half. “I think we got a little bit lucky that they shot poorly.”
Poorly might not describe it.
The Lions, the fourth seed from the Mid-Columbia Conference, hit just 7 of 32 attempts (21.9 percent) in the first half and missed their final eight 3-point tries after Mitchell Mueller hit their first two.
Mueller, a left-handed junior guard, had 10 of Kennewick’s 18 halftime points. He finished with 15.
The second half was even worse, as Kennewick (5-17) missed 16 of 20 shots and went more than nine minutes without scoring.
“Part of that was due to our defense,” Phillips said, “but they were a beaten team there early in the third quarter.”
And University was doing the best to keep them that way. After losing their final regular-season game last week, senior Brett Bailey said the Titans knew they had some kinks to work out.
“We were kind of struggling the last game against Shadle,” said Bailey, who is headed to the University of San Diego next season. “Our chemistry seemed a little off. But this game we really showed how well we can play together as a team.
“When we’re sharing the ball and moving the ball, I think we can beat just about anybody.”
That sharing led to 65 percent shooting in the first half, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. And it wasn’t just the 6-foot-5 Bailey doing the scoring, though he finished with a game-high 20 points.
Senior Joseph Carrieres, who hit two 3-pointers in a 23-4 run that spanned the final 7 minutes before halftime, and junior Michael Isotalo, who added another eight before intermission, also chipped in, with the two combining for 19 points.
About the only area in which the Titans struggled early was taking care of the ball. They had 10 turnovers in the first 12 minutes but only one more until garbage time, which lasted the final quarter-and-a-half.
“(We started) passing to our teammates instead of the other team, that’s important,” Phillips said, smiling.
The Titans have a lot to smile about, in that they will stay home Friday night and play Shadle Park at 8 as the double-elimination portion of the tournament begins.
“It’s going to get tougher,” Phillips said, “and it’s going to be at home, we know that.”
And U-Hi will be well-rested.
Rogers 56, Kamiakin 49: Amaujae Daniels overcame early foul trouble to score 23 points and the Pirates (5-16) took charge in the second half and beat the host Braves.
Carson Murray added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Rogers, which outscored Kamiakin 36-24 in the second half.
Rogers will play Friday at Hanford (16-5).
Hanford 69, Mt. Spokane 66: Joe Douglas erupted for 35 points and the Falcons rallied late to edge the visiting Wildcats (7-14).
Tanner Kissinger scored 15 points and Stu Stiles, Chris Reis and Grant Martin all added 10 for Mt. Spokane, which saw its season come to an end.
Shadle Park 57, Sunnyside 40: Skyler Kelley made all nine of his free throws and led three players in double figures with 16 points as the Highlanders (12-9) topped the visiting Grizzlies.
Kyle Knutsen had 13 points and Morgen Barnes added 11 for Shadle Park, which plays again on Friday.
Sunnyside was eliminated.