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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Post Falls Christian posts state-clinching triumph

Mike Saunders Correspondent

Ah, the sweet smell of a state berth.

Post Falls Christian caught a whiff of one Saturday afternoon and followed it to a 45-34 victory over Mullan in the second-place game of the 1A District I boys basketball tournament at Lakeland High in Rathdrum.

The win propels the Eagles (16-7) to a showdown Wednesday at 2 p.m. PST with District 5 runner-up Rockland in the opening round of the State 1A tournament at Caldwell High. Rockland (13-10) earned its berth in a 69-68 thriller over Sho-Ban on Saturday.

PFC post Brad Shaw, who tallied team highs with 12 points and eight rebounds, couldn’t contain his elation as he watched his teammates cut down the second-place nets.

“This is just awesome, it being my senior year and all,” said the 6-foot-4 Shaw. “I’m so happy for all of the guys on this team – we’re going to state!”

Mullan, however, didn’t make it easy. The Tigers went on an 8-0 run, highlighted by junior guard Joe Ploharz’s three-point play, to end the second quarter and trailed 17-16 at the intermission.

But the Eagles’ deep bench caught up with the Tigers, who play only six men, as PFC outscored Mullan 18-9 in the third quarter.

Shaw’s frontcourt mate, Danny Anderson, who added 10 points and six rebounds, said team speed was crucial to the victory.

“We wanted to pressure them and try to fluster them because we have a really fast team,” said Anderson, a 6-2 sophomore. “We just wanted to get a lot of steals and a lot of fast breaks.”

The plan worked, as the Eagles’ frenzied full-court pressure forced 25 Tigers turnovers.

First-year Eagles coach Tim Mitchell praised Mullan’s tenacity and pointed to the play of his two big men and his bench as the difference in the game.

“The plan was to outrun them,” Mitchell said. “Last time we played them, they ran down our run-and-shoot offense, so we had to open it up and show them every thing else – inside and outside.

“Tonight, our big fellas stepped up and played a great game and role players stepped up and played even better.”

Junior post Jesse James, who led the Tigers with 10 points and eight rebounds, credited the Eagles and managed to find a bright spot despite his disappointment.

“They were pressuring the ball all night, because we don’t have a true point guard,” James said. “That was smart of them and they just played better than we did.

“But the newspaper picked us to finish last in the league this year and to just be horrible, and we came and got third place and pulled it out and did better than anybody thought we would.”

“They never gave up all year,” coach Bruce Bailey said of his Tigers. “They played hard to the end, and I liked that. We’ve played with a six-man rotation all year long, and we’ve been winning with it, but we played against a good team today and they just deserved to win.”

Mullan finished 10-14.

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