SPOKANE – One miraculous Taholah shot went in. The other didn’t.
The Taholah High School boys basketball team’s final shot of the 2012-13 season rolled out off the rim as the buzzer sounded Saturday in a 43-42 loss to Christian Faith School at the state Class 1B boys basketball championship at the Spokane Arena.
But the Chitwhins (19-4) still came home with a sixth-place trophy from the Spokane Arena, the first-ever in school history.
It was the kind of finish that Taholah coach Greg Stewart said he was hoping for, in light of the turmoil that has surrounded Chitwhin athletics this season.
“This is huge. It’s something our boys will always remember,” said Stewart, a Taholah alum. “With everything we’ve been
through this season, I proud of the way the boys stepped and played hard for three games.
“We had 21 boys in the program when the season started – I finished with 16. There were times we didn’t know if we were going to have another game, or if we’d even be allowed to play at districts, ” Stewart added. “It’s been a crazy season.”
In the end, the difference between bringing back the fourth and sixth-place trophies was poor shooting. The Chitwhins had problems finding the basket early, missing eight of their first nine attempts from the floor, and finished with the exact same numbers in the final three minutes of the ballgame.
“We had good looks, we had good shots,” Stewart said, “but we couldn’t get it to drop for us.”
But Taholah took a very aggressive stance on defense, especially against Christian Faith’s 6-foot-6 Segun Amosun, who wasn’t a factor in the Eagles’ offense, finishing with just four points while grabbing nine rebounds.
“We knew they’d want to go inside to him, so we kept him double-teamed most of the game,” said Stewart.
Taholah’s Joseph Winn scored twice in the first 90 seconds of the fourth period to give Taholah a 35-32 lead, but Afari Stinson-Richardson hit a three-ball to knot the score at 35-all with 5:57 to go.
The Chitwhins took control one final time when Jimmy Smith-Kramer scored off a rebound and Justin Curleybear drove to the bucket for two points, giving Taholah a 39-35 lead at the 4:25 mark.
After that, there would be just one more score for the Chitwhins, a 3-pointer from Keanu Curleybear with 1:11 left in the game. The Eagles outscored Taholah 8-3 in the final four minutes to pull out the victory.
Christian Faith’s Makaran Toor made a layin with 22 seconds remaining for the winning basket.
A 3-point attempt by Taholah’s Cleve Jackson at the buzzer went in and out.
Neither team did much offensively in the first quarter, which ended at 7-7. The shooting got better for the Chitwhins in the second quarter, especially one really long shot.
J. Curleybear, Smith-Kramer and Winn all scored during the period to push the Chitwhins out to an 18-14 lead just before the end of the half. And Taholah got a miracle from Smith-Kramer just before intermission.
With time winding down, J. Curleybear stripped Christian Faith point guard Afari Stinson-Richardson of the ball near midcourt . Smith-Kramer grabbed the loose ball and launched a 50-footer that banked off the glass and went in, putting the Chitwhins up by seven at intermission, 21-14.
But the Eagles came out of the locker room ready to battle back, and did so behind Ignatius Medani, who hit two 3-pointers and scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the first four minutes of the third quarter. That allowed Christian Faith to build a 29-25 lead, but Winn scored twice late in the quarter for the Chitwhins, cutting the deficit to 32-31 heading into the final frame.
Justin Curleybear led the Taholah offense with 12 points, while Smith-Kramer and Winn added 10 points each.
CF 7 7 18 11 — 43
Tah 7 14 10 11 — 42
Christian Faith (43) — Stinson-Richardson 12, Amosun 4, Toor 5, Medani 20, Weed 2, Cabiles, Rolinsky. FG— 12-54 (.222). FT — 13-23.
Taholah (42) — Jackson 3, Smith-Kramer 10, J.Curleybear 12, Tadios-Tahkeal 2, K.Curleybear 5, Winn 10, Purdy, Tanner. FG — 18-61 (.295). FT — 2-2.