Abysmal free-throw shooting Friday night nearly derailed West Valley in its bid for the District 7 2A boys basketball championship.
But, said coach Jay Humphrey, “This is the time of year when players make plays.”
The Eagles did, including four straight points from the line in the final 43 seconds of regulation to earn a reprieve, then won 71-68 in overtime to salvage a push with Clarkston in the boys and girls finals at Central Valley.
The Bantams girls rode the talents of Jamie Weisner to a 59-46 win in the opener against WV.
Victors advance to regional play next weekend in Ellensburg. Friday’s losers play today at 2 (boys) and 4 p.m. (girls) at CV against Pullman for the second berths to regionals. Both Greyhounds teams were victorious in loser-out games at West Valley on Friday.
West Valley 71, Clarkston 68 (OT): The game was a non-stop, back-and-forth exhibition between two talented and athletic teams as the lead either changed hands or was tied 17 times through much of the first half.
But during a 5-minute span, the Eagles (19-3) led 42-39 with 6 minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter and might have had the game put away had they not made just 4 of 13 free-throw tries.
Then Clarkston went to a packed in 2-3 zone defense and WV shut down.
“We were all stagnant,” said GNL scoring leader Brady Bagby, “so the coaches had to get on us.”
The Bantams (18-4), led by springy Tommy Sperry, scored the final 16 points of the period and had a 58-52 lead with a minute remaining. Trey Sobotta (who led all scorers with 24 points) and Drew Adams divided 10 points each hit 3-pointers.
“They are athletic as heck,” said Humphrey. “We were getting stops and all of a sudden they made tough shots.”
But Bagby, who was 1 for 6 from the line at that point, made four straight free throws, sandwiched around a banking 3-pointer by Tyler Stavnes from the right side with 30 seconds remaining in his first appearance in the game. The Eagles knotted the game at 59-59 and had a second life.
Bagby put the Eagles up 68-62 with 1:10 remaining, including a baseline 3-pointer, and they weathered Clarkston’s 3-point barrage to advance.
Bagby was slowed by foul trouble but finished with 20 points.
Pullman 49, East Valley 48: Austin Drake tallied 12 points and Corey Langerveld added seven points and eight rebounds as the Greyhounds (17-5) edged the Knights (12-11) at West Valley. The Greyhounds built a 12-point halftime lead before the Knights rallied in the fourth quarter. Ronnie Jarvis scored 12 of their 19 fourth-quarter points, helping them pull within one.
Clarkston 59, West Valley 46: Weisner, the Great Northern League MVP, scored 26 points and had 19 rebounds in leading Clarkston’s triumph.
But while she was the difference maker, Clarkston was hardly a one-woman team. All eight who saw game time scored, which more than offset the Eagles’ two-player contribution of Shaniqua Nilles and Hannah Love.
They combined for 39 points – Nilles with 23 – but the remainder of the WV crew managed just eight points.
“I think the fact that in our last four games we found we can play man-to-man defense was a factor,” said Bantams coach Scott Thompson. “We played zone all year until games with East Valley and Cheney. That made us think we could man against WV.”
It was a game of runs with the Eagles (17-5) taking leads of 14-6 and 29-23 early in each half.
But Clarkston (17-5) surged to lead by three points lat in the first half and put the game away with a 19-4 burst and 46-35 lead with 4 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the game. Weisner scored 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Pullman 54, Cheney 35: Shelby Cheslek scored 18 points and the Greyhounds (12-10) opened up the second half on a 22-3 run to turn a one-point halftime lead into a 20-point lead to start the fourth quarter against the Blackhawks (11-11) at West Valley.
The Blackhawks were paced by Allie Brown’s 10 points, but they struggled in the second half, hitting 5 of 15 shots, attempting only two jumpers in the third quarter.