Despite being held to its lowest point total of the season, Almira/Coulee-Hartline’s defense held strong and the Warriors (24-0) edged Seattle Lutheran 50-44 in the State 1B quarterfinals on Thursday in the Spokane Arena.
The Warriors entered the fourth quarter with a 40-39 lead, and two buckets on back-to-back possession from ACH leading scorer Dallas Isaak pushed it to 44-39. The teams traded stops for much of the quarter, until Josh Meyer scored with 3:06 left to pull the Saints within three.
Payton Nielson answered with a layup with 2:45 left to push ACH’s lead back to five, and the Warriors buckled down on defense for the rest of the half. Warrior post Logan Bohnet blocked Josh Meyer with 40 seconds left, and Isaak corralled the rebound and passed the ball to Maguire Isaak, who was intentionally fouled with 36 seconds left. He made the first and missed the second, but Nielsen grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Xavier Turner, his fifth of the game.
Turner picked up his fourth foul with 1:29 left in the third quarter, and putting one of the Saints best players in foul trouble was helpful for the Warriors.
“Trust me, I was counting,” Nielsen said. “Him picking up that fourth foul really brought him out of the game.”
Nielsen grabbed his fifth offensive rebound after missing his second free throw, and Derek Isaak made one at the line after being fouled to put ACH up 49-41 and put the game out of reach for Seattle Lutheran (22-3).
Nielsen, who finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, shot 8 of 10 from the field.
“He’s a guy you can’t scout for, because he works so hard,” ACH head coach Graham Grindy said.
Derek Isaak added 17 points for the Warriors. Isaiah Dowding-Albrect poured in five 3-pointers and 15 points to lead the Saints and Turner posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards.
Turner and Myer –who lead the Saints with 18.2 points and 15.9 points per game, respectively – were held in check with a combined 18 points.
ACH jumped out to a 20-12 lead at the conclusion of the first, in large part due to nine points from Nielsen and a 11-0 run to end the quarter.
“We tried to run that press to try and get us a gap, and from that point on just play solid defense,” Grindy said. “In a tournament setting it is hard to press three days in a a row, so we kind of pulled it off.”
The Warriors nursed its lead, bringing a 30-23 into halftime, but the Saints rattled off a 16-7 run to end the third to cut their deficit to one.
ACH matches up with Yamaka Nation Tribal in the semifinals on Friday at 5:30.
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