YAKIMA –There was just no way that Freeman sophomore Michael Coumont was not playing for a state basketball championship Saturday night. No way.
The slender sophomore took over the Scotties’ State 1A semifinal game against Kalama, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter, as Freeman advanced to its first state title game with a gritty 58-52 win over Kalama in the SunDome on Friday.
The Scotties (22-3) will play defending champion Kings Saturday at 7 p.m.
“Our coaches always tell us to never give up,” Coumont said after the game. “We were going to fight until the end.”
Coumont took advantage of a match-up advantage with smaller Kalama guard Blake Stemkoski in the final minutes. On three straight possessions, he drove past Stemkoski for layups, then followed Rhys McVay’s layup with another short, driving shot to give Freeman a 51-48 lead that they wouldn’t lose.
Kalama took a 39-31 lead in the third period thanks in large to two 3-pointers by Hunter Esary. Esary had a marvelous game, scoring 25 points –17 in the second half – to lead all scorers and pulling down eight rebounds.
Freeman was led in scoring by Coumont’s 19 points followed by Ryan Maine with 12 and Jack Paukert with 11.
But the third-period deficit wsa not a concern to Freeman coach Marty Jessett. He saw his club battle back from 17 down at Lakeside and beat the Eagles. He said after the game he was waiting for the type of performance from Coumont that the sophomore delivered.
“He’s a unbelievable athlete,” Jessett said, noting that he thinks the sophomore may defer to some of the more veteran players too often. “We’ve been waiting for him to cut loose.
Jessett said he took Coumont out of the game just before his scoring outburst and let assistant Kyle Olson pump him up on the bench. It clearly worked.
The Cardinals outscored Zillah 20-9 in the second quarter to take a two-point halftime lead before the Leopards bounced back for a 21-4 advantage in the third to lead 55-40. The Cardinals didn’t get closer than 12 in the fourth.
Cory Wagner scored 10 points for Medical Lake.