On a team of gazelles, Neah Bay sophomore Tyler McCaulley is the antithesis.
But McCaulley’s football lineman build (he’s actually a fullback and linebacker) belies a sweet basketball shot that undid LaCrosse-Washtucna/Kahlotus in Friday night’s second State 1B semifinal at the Spokane Arena.
The Red Devils’ 77-60 victory set up a rematch of 2011’s final, won by Sunnyside Christian, tonight at 5.
It was bombs away for McCaulley, who launched four 3-pointers as they bolted to a 21-6 lead, and flustered the Tigercats with a defense that coach Gerrad Brooks describes as “controlled chaos.”
“It looks like it’s haphazard,” he said, “but there’s also a plan and a formula for it.”
McCaulley’s soft hands that produced 29 points and a tourney-record 8 for 12 3-pointers took care of the offense.
“I just like this court. It’s open,” McCaulley said. “When you feel it, you keep shooting.”
LWK tried to run with Neah Bay, or at least was forced into trying to keep up, but couldn’t despite a 20-point effort by post Jed Zimmer and 16 more by Darcy Stamper, with one basket on a shot after he had passed the ball completely around his body.
They recovered from the Red Devils’ hot start to trail 35-28 at half. But McCaulley banged home two more 3-pointers to open the third quarter and Neah went up 43-28. If the Tigercats made a small run, the Red Devils answered – particularly Abraham Venske, who had 12 of his 20 points in the final two quarters.
In the earlier semifinal, patience was its own reward for Sunnyside Christian, whose methodical offense style has been a successful staple of the State 1B tournament.
Even with a new coach – Brian Bosma has replaced seven-time state winner Dean Wagenaar this year – the tried-and-true time-consuming style has the Knights (26-2) back in the state final for the eighth time. They beat Pomeroy 51-40.
The Knights feasted on second-chance points in the first half, scoring 16 off offensive rebounds while taking a 25-12 halftime lead.
They maintained a comfrotable margin until the final two minutes of the game, when shaky free-throw shooting enabled Pomeroy (20-7) to get within seven points.