It’s playing out like it did five years ago for the St. George’s boys basketball team.
State 2B champions in 2012-13, the Dragons earned a chance to do it again with a 64-60 victory in overtime over the Liberty Lancers in a late semifinal game Friday at the Arena.
The second-seeded Dragons (26-0) take on defending champ and top seeded Kittitas/Thorp (24-1). Tipoff is at 3.
It’s the eighth straight year that a Northeast 2B team has played in the state final.
Liberty meets Adna to decide third and fifth places at 1.
St. George’s 64, Liberty 60: It was a year to the day that St. George’s standout Erik Farias suffered a season-ending knee injury in the state semifinals.
Imagine his joy when he hit the clincher, a short shot in the key, with 31 seconds remaining, and Ben Adams followed with two free throws 18 seconds later.
“They’re a great team, really physical,” Farias said of Liberty. “We know each other very well. They play super hard. I’m glad we got the (win) but it definitely wasn’t easy.”
Before St. George’s rallied to force overtime, Liberty (22-4) took a 55-51 lead when Thomas Redder hit two free throws with 1:08 to play in regulation.
After a timeout, Farias found Adams underneath for a basket, and Adams tied it with 7 seconds to go when he hit a driving basket after almost slipping to the court as he started his move.
Farias finished with 23 points, six assists and four steals.
It was a typical possession-by-possession game between familiar opponents. Defense was at a premium throughout.
“We’re North and South now (in the league), but it’s almost a rivalry where we just know that every time we play it’s going to be a battle,” St. George’s coach Ryan Peplinski said. “You can throw out what talent level we’re at. They know us and we know them. It’s just who is going to fight for it. Tonight, win or lose that game, everybody on both teams left it out there. It was a great effort.”
St. George’s held off Liberty 60-58 in the district championship game.
“Obviously, they’re a solid team, they’ve got Brock Ravet and he’s an amazing player,” Farias said of Kittitas/Thorp. “I think we’ve got a good game plan and I think we can go in with confidence.”
Liberty was fortunate to trail by less than double digits at halftime after the Lancers committed 11 turnovers.
St. George’s opened a 13-7 when Mitchell Ward made a 3-pointer with 3:39 to go in the first quarter. The Dragons took a 17-8 lead into the second.
Three times the Dragons led by 10 points but the Lancers wouldn’t go away. They pulled within 25-20 late. Two free throws by Erik Farias allowed St. George’s to go into intermission with a 28-20 lead.
Redder led Liberty with 17 points and five rebounds.
Peplinski is looking forward to the challenge against Kittitas/Thorp. He would just like a little more time.
“I got to see (Ravet) a lot last summer because he travels with us on Eastern Washington Elite,” Peplinski said. “He’s kind of a once-in-a-generation type of player. I don’t know that I’ve seen anybody better, especially at our level. And he’s one of the best guys on the West Coast. It’s a quick turnaround for us playing the late game and coming back at 3.”
Kittitas/Thorp 77, Adna 34: Gonzaga University commit Ravet plays a different game than most of his peers.
It was never more evident than in the Coyotes’ semifinal.
The junior guard scored 33 points, 21 in the first half, and added eight assists and 10 rebounds as Kittitas/Thorp earned the opportunity to defend its state championship.
The Coyotes opened a 20-4 lead in the first quarter and stretched it to 33-7 going into the second. They led 48-22 at halftime.
Freshman Mason Landdeck hit a 3-pointer to move the game into running clock status, extending the Coyotes’ lead to 66-24 with 2:22 to go in the third quarter.
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