The defending State 2A-champion Pullman boys are headed back to the state tournament, just don’t use that “D” word around the Greyhounds.
“We don’t ever talk about ‘defending’ a state championship,” said coach Craig Brantner after his Greyhounds knocked off Wapato, 74-53 Saturday at Cheney High. “That was last year’s team. Instead, we like to talk about pursuing a state championship because that’s what we’re doing.”
And doing it quite well. Pullman heads off to state with 20 wins in 22 games.
Wapato posed a few challenges with a quick, high-octane offense, but Pullman adapted quickly.
“This group is able to do a lot more things defensively than we did last year,” Brantner said. “In that way coaching this group is easier than it was last year.”
The Greyhounds took a 10-point lead in the first half only to have Wapato scramble back to within six in the third quarter.
“(Wapato was) able to take away some of the things we wanted to do because they’re so quick,” Brantner said. “But this is one of the most versatile groups I’ve had and the top six or seven players have played a lot of basketball together. I don’t even have to tell them what it is I want them to do – they just hear a keyword and they go do it.”
Senior guard David Ungerer banged home a couple of 3-pointers, made a couple of steals in transition and fed 6-foot-5 Race Martin as the team raced through the fourth quarter on a 20-6 run to close out their state-tournament booking order.
Martin finished with 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Pullman. Ungerer had 16 points and Micah Lagerquist scored 14.
“It feels great to get this win,” Martin said. “We knew going in that we would get everyone’s best game all year because of what we did last year. We push each other hard every day in practice so we can be ready for it.”
Pullman shot 46.8 percent, connecting on 29 of 62 shots, and outrebounded Wapato, 33-23.
Wapato got 21 points from Adam Vela and 13 more inside from Marcus Guevara.