MONTESANO — Wishkah’s boys simultaneously fulfilled both a four-year quest and a 29-year pilgrimmage.
Thanks to the clutch shooting of Ray Lopez, Oakville returned to district glory.
Brady Anderson scored 28 points as Wishkah claimed a regional berth with a 75-53 victory over Taholah in the District IV Class 1B Boys Basketball Tournament on Saturday at Montesano’s Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
Lopez nailed two 3-point baskets in the final 2 1/2 minutes as Oakville captured the district championship by topping Three Rivers Christian, 68-63, in the final game of the co-ed tripleheader.
With their first district title in several years, the Acorns (15-8) will remain close to home for regional competition next week.
As the district’s third seed, the Loggers (17-5) face a long road trip, possibly to Mountlake Terrace, for a regional date with either Neah Bay or Tulalip Heritage. It will, however, be the first post-district appearance for Wishkah’s boys since the 1985 team qualified for the old unified state Class B tournament.
“These kids have been working for this for four years,” Wishkah coach Matt Ferrier said.
Taholah finished its season with an 8-9 record.
Loggers 75, Chitwhins 53
Name the area of the game and it’s a pretty good bet Wishkah excelled in it Saturday.
Running the floor well and crashing the offensive glass, the Loggers shot 52 percent from the field.
Although Taholah assistant coach Eric Capoeman’s estimate that Wishkah enjoyed at least a 3-to-1 rebounding advantage on his club might have been exaggerated, it was only slightly. The Loggers pulled down five offensive boards in one possession during the first half, with Chris Thein finally converting the sixth shot.
Wishkah’s defense also made life difficult for Taholah aces Keanu Curleybear and Jimmy Smith-Kramer.
Curleybear demonstrated some of his phenomenal long-distace shooting ability, but his 19 points were still below his season average. Hamstrung by foul difficulty throughout (he fouled out midway through the third quarter), Smith-Kramer went scoreless.
Robert Rodriguez and Keigan Gardiner drew most of the defensive accolades from Ferrier.
“To put (these kids) in a loser-out situation and have them absolutely rise to the occasion, it shows their character completely,” the Wishkah coach said.
Anderson, meanwhile, hit three 3-point shots and went 11-of-14 from the foul line. The senior guard also handed out five assists.
The Loggers scored the game’s opening five points and never surrendered the lead.
Curleybear put down a couple of deep 3-pointers to reduce the deficit to five late in the first half. Taholah was still as close as six (42-36) early in the third quarter, but Brady Anderson combined with his cousin Jace Anderson, Trey Berge and Gardiner on a 12-0 run that settled the outcome.
Taholah starters Smith-Kramer and Levi Jackson fouled out during that span.
“Our transition defense wasn’t there today and we got killed on the bords,” Capoeman said. “We’ve got to do a better job on blocking out and a better job on transition defense.”
Capoeman said job conflicts prevented the coaching staff from doing a better job of preparing the club.
Berge scored 13 points and paced Wishkah rebounders with 12. The speedy Gardiner contributed 15 points, four assists and four steals.
Tiny (5-foot-5) Wade Purdy helped pick up the scoring slack for Taholah with 16 points.
Acorns 68, Eagles 63
Only the third-seeded club out of the northern 1B independent ranks, Oakville knocked off pre-tournament co-favorites Wishkah and Three Rivers in notching its first district title in several years.
“I’m so proud of the boys,” Oakville coach Cliff Harris said. “They’ve worked so hard.”
The Acorns trailed by as many as seven points during the third quarter of a seesaw encounter. Every time they seemed about to sink, however, their long-range shooters stepped up.
Outscored from inside the arc, Oakville made a dozen 3-point shots.
Three Rivers led 60-56 with 3:09 remaining. After Oakville’s Marcus Youckton sank a pair of free throws, Lopez buried a three-ball to give the Acorns a 61-60 lead with 2:26 on the clock.
About a minute, Lopez’s second key trey broke a 62-62 tie. Lopez also converted both ends of a one-and-one foul-line opportunity with 18 seconds remaining to give the Acorns a four-point lead and essentially ice the triumph.
Lopez made six 3-pointers — most of them from well beyond the arc — in leading all scorers with 25 points. Marcus Youckton had 13 points and four steals, while Shawn Youckton (Marcus’ cousin) and T.J. Trott each grabbed nine rebounds.
Harris also cited the reserve play of Geo Jack.
Junior point guard Danny Hull scored nine of Three Rivers’ 10 points in the fourth quarter and finished with a team-high 21.
Wishkah 24 16 14 21 — 75
Taholah 16 16 6 15 — 53
Wishkah (75) — Gardiner 15, B. Anderson 28, Rodriguez 3, Thein 4, J. Anderson 6, Berge 13, Baltzell 6, Richardson. FG — 28-54 (.519). FT — 16-27.
Taholah (53) — Smith-Kramer, Jackson 2, Purdy 16, Curleybear 19, Stewart 8, Anderson 2, Orozco 6, Jones, Capoeman, Needham. FG — 21-66 (.318). FT — 4-7.
Oakville 15 12 23 18 — 68
Three Rivers 11 20 22 10 — 63
Oakville (68) — M. Youckton 13, Lorton, Trott 5, A. Youckton, Ortivez 12, Lopez 25, Bird, Jack 3, Atkins, S. Youckton 10, Bray. FG — 23-53 (.434). FT — 10-17.
Three Rivers (63) — Martinez 16, Powell 10, Hoffman 3, Moore, Hull 21, Carns 13, FG — 24-57 (.421). FT — 9-17.