YAKIMA – For Arnold Brown, it was simple to motivate his Medical Lake Cardinals to be ready for their 9 a.m. State 2A boys basketball tournament opener against Connell.
Brown reminded the Cardinals that the only way to avoid an early curfew every day – and to stay on track for a shot at the title game they narrowly missed in 2004 – was to win the first game. No win in Wednesday’s opener and the Cardinals would face a succession of early games to get a trophy.
It took one half to sink in, but the Cardinals responded by zipping past Connell 60-44 at the Yakima SunDome to advance to today’s quarterfinals against Cashmere at 4 p.m. The game is a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals, which Medical Lake won in double overtime.
“We got them up at 6 a.m. yesterday (Tuesday) and again today and told them that if they wanted to sleep in, we had to win,” Brown said. “I think they listened.”
One who listened for certain is junior guard Kevin Broadnax. After a slow first half, he split the Eagles’ defense apart in the second half, hitting all seven of his shots and finishing with a game-high 22 points.
Broadnax did his work by heading into the teeth of Connell’s tall interior defense – 6-foot-9 John Conrad and 6-7 Kris Knight.
Brown said he knew Broadnax could penetrate and score in practice because he had done so as a 2003 reserve against the Cardinals’ tall front line. He was uncertain until Wednesday whether the youngster had the confidence to take it inside during a game.
The Cardinals shot 63 percent in the second half (15 of 24) after shooting 33 percent (7 of 21) in the first half.
Steven Wesley had 14 points and 10 rebounds to back up Broadnax.
Pullman 46, Lynden Christian 43
J.T. Levenseller’s Pullman basketball career started slowly, but he hit his stride just in time for the state tournament.
The sophomore, who started the year on the JV squad, came off the bench to score 20 points and haul down seven rebounds as the Greyhounds stunned the third-ranked Lyncs in an afternoon game.
The win moved the Greyhounds into tonight’s 7:30 quarterfinal against 2002 champion Grandview. The first-round win is Pullman’s fourth in five trips to the 2A tournament and Pullman is 9-4 in its last four trips, bringing home two runner-up trophies.
After a back-and-forth game in which the biggest second-half lead was four points – once by each team – Lynden Christian had a shot to send the game into overtime on its final possession. After a timeout with 5 seconds remaining, Kevin Burgers’ 3-pointers from the high left wing missed the mark. Burgers and Kyle Coston led LC with 16 points apiece.
Levenseller, the son of WSU assistant football coach Mike Levenseller, started splitting time between varsity and JV and quickly became the leading scorer on both teams, according to Pullman coach Ken Swanger. On a team without a player averaging double digits, Levenseller’s output was the team’s high for the season, Swanger said.
“We’ve relied on our defense all year,” he said.
True to Swanger’s words, Ben Hein – who averages just less than 10 points a game – backed up Levenseller with seven points and Brian Pan (6.9 ppg) added six points.
“He’s quite the story,” Swanger said of Levenseller. “He had a tremendous game for a sophomore in this kind of environment.”
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