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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Special season leads to eighth state title for Northwest Christian’s boys

Northwest Christian reacts after defeating Mossy Rock in a WIAA 2B state basketball game on Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Vince Grippi Correspondent

The simple story is Northwest Christian won its record eighth State B boys basketball title Saturday afternoon at the Arena.

The Crusaders dominated Mossyrock from the opening tip and raced to a 75-48 victory, taking home another State 2B gold ball.

But it’s never that simple. There is always more. And, for NWC this year, much more.

There was junior Micah Henry keeping stats instead of playing, as he deals with a non-cancerous brain tumor.

There was head coach Ray Ricks, aiming for his sixth title but the first with someone related to him playing point guard. That would be son Ryan, who had scored 27 points in Friday’s semifinal.

When the final was over, Ray stood at midcourt, watched his team celebrate and reflected.

“It’s extra special with my son this year,” Ricks said, his voice shaking a bit. “It’s probably been one of the sweetest ones ever, not just because of my son, but because of Micah and everything he’s gone through with him battling the tumor.

“This one’s sweet.”

The best?

“Today, this one’s best.”

And easily the most dominant. The Crusaders’ big three – Ricks, post Asher Cox and guard David Olds – each came through in the three-day run. And they got Northwest Christian (26-2) off to a great start each tournament game.

NWC had first-quarter leads of seven, 18 and 14 in its three state wins, the last coming in less than 6 minutes against Mossyrock (21-8). And it came with Ricks not scoring a point.

“Ryan was hot last night and was able to light up early. They were obviously watching,” said Cox, the 6-foot-4 junior post who had 11-first quarter points and a game-high 23 overall along with 13 rebounds.

“It opened up the post for me and the corner for David.”

Olds, the senior guard, added seven points in the first 4:39 and could have had two more except the rim interfered with his fast-break dunk attempt. He laughed it off en route to 16 points.

For Mossyrock, only Jaron Kirkley seemed consistently capable of attacking the Crusaders’ zone, scoring 20 points. But it took 24 shots and he missed all seven of his 3-point attempts as Mossyrock shot 30 percent from the floor.

Northwest Christian led 22-10 after one and 37-21 at the half. When the Vikings’ second-half emphasis switched to Olds, Ricks’ 11 points and four assists allowed NWC to keep and stretch its margin.

“It’s worked all year, having the three guys and (the opponents) having to choose,” whom to guard, Cox said.

It was true again, though Ian Starkey also got involved in this one with 12 points.

When the final story of the season is written, it will include last year’s state semifinal defeat as the starting point. At least that’s how Cox saw it.

“Last year we got close. This year it was huge motivation,” he said. “Tonight we came out shooting. We came out firing. Super strong start. It really pushed through the rest of the game.”

It’s that simple.