For the second game in a row, Almira/Coulee-Hartline’s defense made the difference in its 46-41 victory over Yakama Nation Tribal in the semifinals of the State 1B tournament on Friday at the Arena.
“It wasn’t how I thought it would go,” ACH senior Dallas Isaak said. “But we controlled what we could control, and that was our defense.”
ACH (25-0), down one to start the fourth quarter, rattled off a 9-0 run, opening its biggest lead. A three-point play followed by a layup on the subsequent possession from Yakama Tribal senior Christian Hanson cut the lead to three, but the Warriors responded with a layup from Dawson Doramaier and a pair free throws from Maguire Isaak put the game out of reach.
After allowing 23 points in the first quarter, the Warriors surrendered only 18 in the final three.
Yakama Tribal (14-9) came out in the first half with the hot hand, shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from 3-point range. The Warriors were forced to go smaller and leave either 6-foot-7 Logan Bohnet and 6-4 Payton Nielsen on the bench to match up with the Eagles’ smaller and quicker lineup, according to Warriors head coach Graham Grindy.
The change made a huge difference in the second half as the Warriors settled in and limited the Eagles to 25-percent shooting from the floor, 11.1 percent from 3 in the second half.
“They came out hot … those guys can shoot,” Grindy said. “We just weathered the storm … and it held through.”
The Eagles opened up a 29-22 lead on the Warriors with a 15-5 run in the first and second quarters. ACH strung together eight unanswered points to cut the lead to 29-28 by halftime.
Eighth-grader Bryan Strom came up huge for the Yakima Tribal in the first half with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting (3 of 3 from 3-point range).
Nielsen posted a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Charles Hunt chipped in 12 points to lead the Warriors in scoring.
Hanson posted a game-high 17 points for the Eagles, while Strom chipped in 14 off the bench on 5-of-6 shooting (4 of 4 from 3).
The Warriors face Neah Bay in the state title game at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The Red Devils edged Sunnyside Christian 61-58 in their semifinal game, with Kendrick Doherty leading the way with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
Neah Bay almost squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, as a 12-3 run from the Knights cut the Red Devils’ lead to one.
A steal from Luke Wagenaar gave Sunnyside Christian a chance to score and win the game, down 59-58 with 9 seconds left. But SC threw the ball away and Rweha Munyagi sunk a layup to seal the game for the Red Devils.
Ryan Moss, who scored 41 in Neah Bay’s quarterfinal matchup with Taholah, was held to nine. Wagenaar had 20 points to lead the Knights.
Stopping the Red Devils will again come down to defense, Grindy said.
“On the third day, trying to go out and outshoot somebody will be difficult,” Grindy said. “Because legs are a factor.”