Confronted with the sudden and unanticipated possibility that they could be playing their last game, the Central Valley Bears arrived at a simple conclusion.
“We weren’t going to let that happen,” said Austin Rehkow.
It took more than three quarters for Saturday night’s opponent, Gonzaga Prep, to get the message, but the Bears couldn’t have been more persuasive in a 29-point fourth period that lifted them to a 68-56 victory in the 4A boys basketball subregional loser-out game at CV.
The Bears (21-2) now have a date next Saturday at Rogers HS in Puyallup against a still-to-be-determined opponent, with a second straight trip to Tacoma and the 4A’s final eight at stake.
But getting to that point was complicated.
CV stumbled in the subregional opener at Richland on Friday, a team they’d rolled by 24 points in a previous visit in December. That set up a fourth meeting with Prep, and caused coach Rick Sloan a little anxiety.
“I was a little concerned how we’d respond,” Sloan said. “This is still a pretty young team, but we had a real positive take-away in how we bounced back.”
It helped that guard Adam Chamberlain, who suffered a deep thigh bruise in the Richland game and was questionable until warmups, came out strong, scoring nine of CV’s first 13 points.
They needed his contribution, because the Bullpups (17-7) were getting just as big of a boost from Brendan McClary. The junior guard drilled four 3-pointers in the first half and kept Prep in the chase in a game that saw 11 lead changes and five ties in the first three periods. Strong work on the boards also helped Prep, which took a 40-39 lead into the last 8 minutes.
Neither team had scored in the final 3:15 of the third quarter, but the Bears righted themselves after the break on a put-back by Beau Byus and a layup by Rehkow. Prep’s chance to answer in between was spoiled when a high-low pass to Jacob Groh took him too low, and he was unable to convert an awkward layup underneath the basket.
That was one of 11 straight empty Bullpup possessions bridging the third and fourth quarters, and when they finally got a free throw from McClary with 2:42 to play, CV had a double-digit lead. A 3 by Rehkow after Austin Daines tracked down an offensive rebound was big; a three-point play Chamberlain 30 seconds later was even bigger.
“We just needed to muscle up and take care of business on the defensive end,” said Rehkow. “We got two or three offensive rebounds that were big and led to some kick-out 3s and easy lay-ins. And then we just had to make our free throws.”
Prep didn’t have another double-figure scorer to go with McClary, who had 23 points, while Rehkow and Chamberlain had 20 apiece and Daines added 12, with seven of his 11 rebounds coming on the offensive end.
Shadle Park 49, Hanford 47: George Pilimai sank a bucket with 0.5 seconds to play and the host Highlanders (13-10) secured a state berth with a win over the Falcons. Pilimai finished with a game-high 19 points and Skyler Kelley added 11 for Shadle Park.