There seems to be little doubt the Northeast 2B League has a bit of the edge over the rest of the state. At least, that would seem to be the consensus after what happened Saturday evening at Mt. Spokane High School.
The top two Northeast 2B boys basketball representatives, St. George’s and Colfax, respectively, rolled to easy wins to advance to next week’s State 2B Hardwood Classic at the Spokane Arena.
Colfax, the defending state champion, steamrolled Bridgeport from the opening tip and cruised to a 66-28 victory over the Mustangs from Central Washington.
Senior guard Brandon Gfeller led the way for the Bulldogs as he usually does, scoring 17 of his game-high 19 points in the first 6 minutes, 30 seconds as Colfax (20-7) opened a 25-6 lead and cruised.
St. George’s, the state’s top-ranked team, started slowly – and sloppily – but eased away from over-matched North Beach, moving on to state with a 65-23 victory.
The Dragons (26-1) scored 23 consecutive points spanning 10 minutes, bridging the first and second quarters, to put the Hyaks away.
St. George’s 65, North Beach 23: The first quarter included 10 turnovers – for the Hyaks (14-12). At half, they had 17, had hit just 4 of 20 shots and watched as the Dragons grabbed 19 rebounds.
The game was actually tight for 3 minutes, but Dexter Seinko’s two-hand power jam in traffic seemed to ignite St. George’s. At the least it kindled a 23-0 game-deciding run.
“That helps out a lot,” said the Dragons’ Will Tender of Sienko’s dunk.
Tender, a 6-foot-4 junior, took advantage of the North Beach 2-3 zone to score inside and outside en route to a game-high 16 points.
“It was kind of just the nerves a bit,” he answered when asked about the slow start. “It’s our first single-elimination game and we had to settle into it.”
Sienko added 14 points, Corey Spalding added 11 off the bench as eight Dragons scored.
The only dark mark for St. George’s occurred early in the second half when Mark Kenney took a charge. The senior guard hit his head hard and had to be helped to the bench. He was taken for an examination and a concussion was feared.
“Our long-term goal is to win a state championship,” said St. George’s coach Ryan Peplinski, whose team’s only loss was to 2A Pullman by a point. “We have some really good players and we’re going to have a chance to do it. (But) we might have taken a hit tonight. You have to stay healthy and you have to have guys step up when you have foul trouble.
“And there is a little luck involved.”
Colfax 66, Bridgeport 28: After Gfeller burped up an air-ball on his first attempt, he hit his next six shots.
“I wanted it,” he said, describing his scoring burst as well as the chance to continue playing.
With 5-8 Mikey Garza on him early, the 6-4 Gfeller posted up, scoring two inside hoops. When the Mustangs switched 6-1 Kip Craig on him, Gfeller drained two bombs.
He put an exclamation point on his overpowering start by driving baseline, raising up and throwing down a two-hand slam.
It wasn’t too long after that he picked up his second foul, however, and sat until after halftime. The break did what the Mustangs (12-10) couldn’t; cool down the senior
“Yeah, but my teammates stepped up, made shots and got stops on defense,” he said, smiling.
His second half was pedestrian – he missed all six of his attempts from the floor, only scoring from the free-throw line – but wasn’t needed, either.
Not the way Colfax was executing on both ends.
“I don’t think we’re the most talented team,” said coach Reece Jenkin, who acknowledges the Bulldogs lost a lot from last year’s team. “We have some kids who just work their tails off.”
It showed on the defensive end. The Bulldogs limited the Mustangs to 5-of-18 shooting in the opening half, forced 10 turnovers, had an 18-8 rebound edge and led by as many as 29 in the first 16 minutes. That lead hit 34 in the third and Colfax began subbing liberally.
Fellow senior Brady Ellis helped Gfeller with the offensive load, with 10 points, while 6-6 post Skylar Simonson flew around, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Every Bulldog played and all contributed in some fashion.
Lind-Ritzville/Sprague 65, Bear Creek 55 (OT): The Broncos (21-8) made 9 of 10 free throws in overtime and beat the Grizzlies at Mountlake Terrace to earn a spot in next week’s State 2B tournament at the Arena.
Lind-Ritzville/Sprague erased a four-point deficit in the final minute of regulation to send the game to overtime. Colby Starring hit a 3-pointer to cut it to one, then, following a defensive stop, Cort Ruzicka made a layin to put the Broncos ahead by a point.
Bear Creek’s Colin Feight was fouled at the buzzer and made one of two free throws to send the game into overtime.
Starring finished with five 3-pointers and 18 points for LRS. Connor O’Neill added 13 points and Dylan Hartz dished out 10 assists for the Broncos.
Northwest Christian 74, Riverside Christian 58: Nick Kiourkas made four 3-pointers and finished with 26 points and eight rebounds as the Crusaders (19-10) secured its spot at the Arena with a win over Riverside Christian at Sunnyside.
Jonathan Morris added 23 points and Austin Friedly had eight rebounds and five assists for Northwest Christian, which opened a 23-14 lead in the first quarter.