MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — It was an awful convergence in the third quarter and it hurt Hoquiam the most when it least needed it.
With momentum, the Grizzlies pushed third-ranked King’s of Shoreline, trailing only 41-38 with 5:22 left in the third quarter.
Then, the Knights re-established their defensive dominance at the same time the Grizzlies cooled off offensively to turn a potentially dramatic game into a comfortable 83-51 King’s victory at Mountlake Terrace High School on Friday night.
This Class 1A regional-to-state game will send the Knights (22-2) to Yakima for the state 1A tournament and will send the Grizzlies (17-8) home for baseball practice.
“There’s a reason why they were ranked No. 1 in one poll and (No. 3 in the state media poll) as well,” HHS head coach Curtis Eccles said. “They were so lanky. They got fingertips on a lot of our passes and just made it tough. They’re a great team and showed it. In spurts, we got it. If we hit our shots, it would have been a different game.”
Hoquiam, which was the only Evergreen 1A League team to make it into the regionals, withstood King’s first big punch of the game with “haymakers”of its own.
Down 21-10 after one quarter, the Grizzlies got big perimeter shooting from junior Evan Newton (11 points) and freshman Jerod Steen (11 points). Key baskets by senior Blake Kelly (six points, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots) and junior Camden Anderson helped the cause.
A 9-0 spurt in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first half — Kelly jumpers, Steen’s 3-point shot and Anderson’s transition basket — trimmed the deficit to 34-30 with 47 seconds left in the first half.
King’s got a basket by post Daniel Fouty and missed two last-second tries for a 36-30 halftime lead.
Steen stayed hot, hitting a trey to start the third quarter. Newton added a 3-ball and Devin Kelly got a transition basket for a 41-38 deficit with 5:22 left.
This is where the game turned.
“First of all, lots of credit to Hoquiam; they played super hard and threw a couple of haymakers at us,” King’s head coach Rick Skeen said. “The reality was we were disappointed with our defensive effort in the first half. We haven’t let anyone score more than 40 for more than a month and they had 30 at halftime. We were disappointed. I thought the second half, our defense came to life and that was the difference in the game. Some of that was Hoquiam — Newton is a stud and both of the Kelly kids played super hard. Credit to them.”
A 14-0 run to end the third quarter, paced by freshman Corey Kispert and powered by a balanced attack needed by Skeen from his players, put King’s in control at 55-38. The Knights’ zone defense played havoc with the Grizzly shooters, forcing extra passes that turned into turnovers and transition baskets.
Kispert was the main man in the first half. The freshman, playing with a 101-degree fever and needing fluids on the bench to keep going, kick-started the Knights. He drained 4-of-6 three-point attempts in the first half, providing a scoring punch that King’s needed.
Kispert led all scorers with 24 points, 21 of them on 3-point shots (7-for-13).
“Our freshman carried us tonight and their three freshmen came in and played really well,” Skeen said. “I like our freshmen. If it wasn’t for (Kispert), we would have been down at halftime. I’m glad he was on our side tonight.”
With Hoquiam sending King’s into bonus free throws late in the third quarter, the Knights pushed their advantage into a 25-0 run before freshman Jack Adams III hit a baseline jumper with — ironically — 5:22 left in the game, 66-40.
Hoquiam never got closer and both teams liberally substituted their bench players to close the game.
“This is such a special team — these kids formed a bond that really the chemistry helped while we were winning,” Eccles said. “I’m proud of these guys. They’ve accomplished a lot this year and shouldn’t hang their heads. After an 0-4 start, to come back and win 17 out of 21 games, that’s fantastic.”
Eccles cited his four seniors — Joel Brydon, Blake Kelly, Devin Kelly and Jake Oliver — for their performances over the season.
Hoquiam (51) — Adams 7, Anderson 3, Brydon 6, B. Kelly 6, D. Kelly 4, Newton 11, Oliver, Spradlin, Standstipher 1, Steen 11, White 2. FG — 17-47 (.362). FT — 9-15.
King’s (83) — Alexander 6, Barhavovich 8, Bundrant 5, Fouty 4, Ca. Kispert 14, Co. Kispert 24, Mitchell 3, Muri 2, Stack 3, Storkson, Wilkins 2. FG — 30-63 (.476). FT — 11-14.