For one night the Palouse stretched all the way to Veradale.
The Pullman Greyhounds swept a pair of games at Central Valley High to clinch the final two State 2A berths in the District 7 boys and girls basketball tournaments.
The Pullman girls, the regular-season Great Northern League champions, held off upset-minded Colville 50-44 in the opener. In the nightcap, the Greyhounds upset regular-season champion West Valley 62-50.
Both teams head to Yakima for the state tournament, which tips off Wednesday morning in the SunDome.
Pullman 62, West Valley 50: West Valley completed the GNL regular season with a 12-2 league mark, but the Eagles saw their season come to sudden end as Pullman went on a 22-7 run to close out the game.
The loss was the second in three days for the Eagles, who were knocked off by Clarkston in the district championship game Thursday at Eastern Washington University.
Pullman coach Craig Brantner empathized. His Greyhounds have been in the Eagles shoes before.
“It’s a tough thing to do,” he said. “You lose the game and the next day at school the kids are all down on themselves, everyone is asking you what happened. It’s hard.
“In our case, I think having had to play Cheney (Friday) to get here made us a better team. It made us focus on having to stop penetration, which is what you have to do when you play West Valley.”
The Greyhounds led early, taking a seven-point lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but West Valley rallied behind the Jordan Lupfer-Graham, the league’s leading scorer who averaged more than 19 points per game in 13 league games.
The senior guard scored eight straight points midway through the period and teammate Alex Allison’s buzzer-beater sent the Eagles into halftime with a 29-28 lead – an advantage they maintained through the third quarter.
Junior post Nick Brown’s putback in the lane and Lupfer-Graham’s second of three 3-pointers staked West Valley to a 44-38 lead, but the wheels came off the rest of the way.
Junior Nate Swanger and senior Cody Weber drilled back-to-back 3-pointers that lifted the Greyhounds from a point down to five – points up in a matter of seconds.
Swanger scored 10 of his team’s 22 points in its final push to state and finished with 21 to lead the Greyhounds.
Lupfer-Graham finished with a game-high 27 to lead West Valley.
Pullman 50, Colville 44: The Greyhounds raced through the regular season without a single loss and refused to see their season end on two straight defeats. Pullman was upset by West Valley Thursday in the District 7 2A championship game at EWU.
“Losing that game was tough, no doubt about it,” senior guard Macey Brown said. “But we knew that, if we came out and played our game, we would be okay.”
Still, there were a few déjÀ vu moments against Colville, a team that finished fifth during the regular season with a 6-8 record.
After trailing by as many as 10 points early, Colville fought its way back into the game, tying the game after three quarters when freshman post Ashley Knight put back a missed shot.
Senior guard Moe Stuart gave Colville a 41-39 lead with 5:10 left in the game when she drilled a 3-pointer.
Brown, for one, never worried.
“As a senior it’s my job to make sure no one gets down and everyone stays positive,” she said. “I love my teammates and I knew we were going to pull together.”
Jordan Levenseller’s layin knotted the score and sparked an 11-point run that built a nine-point lead and earned the team its state berth.
Levenseller finished with a game-high 14 to lead Pullman, with Brown adding another 12.
Jordan Brons’ nine points paced Colville.
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