The University boys basketball team ended a 27-year drought when it qualified for the State 3A tournament last year.
Now it’s highly unlikely the Titans will match that drought by qualifying for state 27 years in a row. But all they’re concerned about is heading to Tacoma for a second consecutive year.
University earned that right by holding off the spirited and physical Enumclaw Hornets in the fourth quarter for a 65-57 victory Saturday at U-Hi.
Shadle Park’s hopes of playing into next week were snuffed out quickly by the Seattle Prep Panthers, who jumped all over the Highlanders early and often in a lopsided 76-42 outcome in the first game at U-Hi.
U-Hi (16-7) and Seattle Prep (20-7) will find out their opponents in a draw today.
University 65, Enumclaw 57: When senior wing Brett Bailey completed a three-point play to extend the Titans’ lead to 40-27 with 4:41 to go in the third quarter, it appeared all the Titans had to do was play smart and run out the clock.
Ten seconds later, Bailey picked up his third foul, and U-Hi coach Garrick Phillips decided to bring Bailey to the bench.
Enumclaw (15-11) saw its opening, shaving the 13-point deficit to 44-38 going into the fourth quarter.
“Our lead evaporated,” Phillips said. “We just went away from what we were doing. It seemed like we wanted to be the guy that would win it instead of sticking together and running our stuff. In the long run, that adversity is gong to serve us well at state.”
Junior post Ben Kuiper got two baskets in the key and Bailey made two free throws minutes later as U-Hi led 51-48.
But the Hornets didn’t go away, finally taking their first and only lead when Tony Chynoweth made both ends of a one-and-one with 2:51 remaining.
Kuiper then made the front end of a one-and-one and managed to beat all the rebounders into the key to grab his miss on the second foul shot and converted the putback to put the Titans ahead at 54-52.
Perry Rockwood pulled Enumclaw into a tie at 54-54 with 2:24 remaining. The only other points the Hornets would score in the final 2 minutes would be on a 3-pointer by Rockwood.
U-Hi secured the win at the foul line in the fourth, making 13 of 16 attempts. The Titans made 9 of 10 in the final 2:09.
Bailey, whose future college coach Billy Grier at the University of San Diego, took in most of the second half after the Torreros were drubbed by Gonzaga, had 15 points and was matched by Joseph Carrieres. DaShaun Boswell had 12 and Kuiper chipped in 11. Bailey and Kuiper each had seven rebounds and Michael Isoltalo had five assists. Boswell had six steals.
“Defensively, I thought we were really solid in the second half,” Phillips said.
Seattle Prep 76, Shadle Park 42: It was ugly early, in between and at the end for the Highlanders.
The Panthers opened a 17-4 lead, but Shadle fought back within seven points at 17-10. But the Highlanders (13-11) couldn’t sustain their momentum.
The biggest problem for Shadle, though, was 6-foot-6 DJ Fenner. The University of Nevada-bound Fenner had his way, scoring a game-high 28 points for the Panthers. He made four 3-pointers.
“Fenner is the real deal,” Shadle coach Tim Gaebe said. “We just didn’t get out of the box, plain and simple. We had plenty of good looks at the rim but we just didn’t finish.”
Sophomore George Pilimai led Shadle with 16 points and four rebounds.
Gaebe praised his team. The Highlanders had to overcome the loss of two-year starting point guard Kionte Brown, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament before the season began.