TACOMA – It wasn’t a good day for 3A Greater Spokane League basketball teams at the state tournament Thursday.
It wasn’t a particularly good start for Shadle Park’s Highlanders, who quickly found themselves down 19-4 before succumbing 74-46 to defending state champ Rainier Beach at the Tacoma Dome.
University’s boys overcame some unforced errors before Eastside Catholic prevailed 53-39.
U-Hi (15-10) takes on O’Dea (17-11) at 9 this morning, followed by Shadle (10-14) meeting Stanwood (23-2) at 10:30.
The U-Hi girls, meanwhile, had the best chance of the three on opening day before falling 50-46 to Bishop Blanchet.
The Titans (10-15) meet Mercer Island (16-9) today at 2.
Rainier Beach 74, Shadle Park 46: The top-ranked Vikings (27-0) have no weakness.
At least not one the Highlanders could find.
Moments after the game, Highlanders wing Skyler Kelley was ready to go again – against the Vikings.
“I think that was the best experience ever. I wish we could play them again,” said Kelley, who led Shadle with 16 points, five rebounds and two assists. “We couldn’t get anything going at first but I think it was just the tempo of the game.”
It didn’t get better until the Highlanders found themselves in a 62-25 hole late in the third quarter. Shadle went on a 19-5 run, capped when Alvin Welch buried a 3-pointer, to pull the Highlanders within 67-44 with 2:50 to go.
“These kids came to compete,” Shadle coach Tim Gaebe said. “We just kept battling and battling. In the first quarter we missed some easy looks and they (the Vikings) weren’t on their ‘A’ game right away.”
Gaebe wasn’t suggesting a possible upset. He just thought a better start could have been had.
“The University of Beach is for real,” Gaebe said. “The best thing about it is we did keep competing.”
And Gaebe believes his team can still play for a trophy on Saturday.
Shadle’s Dale Hagan scored 10 points and had nine rebounds.
Eastside Catholic 53, University 39: The Titans trailed 40-32 early in the fourth quarter and had back-to-back opportunities for one-and-one shots at the foul line.
U-Hi didn’t convert, and all of a sudden the Crusaders began pulling away.
“We had a chance to get it back to four points and put a little pressure on them,” U-Hi coach Garrick Phillips said.
The Titans didn’t have a comeback in them.
U-Hi had 14 turnovers in the first half, and the Titans found themselves in a 29-18 hole at halftime.
EC ended up with 14 more shots overall – and Phillips thought that was the difference.
Not to mention the athletic Crusaders played good defense, too.
Phillips emphasized he was proud of his team’s effort.
“They competed really hard, we just didn’t put the ball in the hole,” he said.
The Crusaders did a solid job defending the Titans’ leading scorer, Michael Isotalo.
Isotalo made just 1 of 9 shots from the field.
Robert Little led U-Hi with 11 points and Ben Kuiper had 10 and nine rebounds.
Bishop Blanchet 50, University 46: The Titans led by 10 points in the fourth quarter but couldn’t make it stand up.
The Braves chipped away, outscoring U-Hi 19-6 in the fourth.
“The ball bounced their way,” U-Hi coach Mark Stinson said. “I know that’s a cliché but it just seemed like we’d get our fingertips on it and it would go right to them.”
Stinson thought the Titans played well at times – just as they did when they knocked off Kamiakin 61-55 to advance to state.
“It was just little things,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of margin for error. When things went their way a little bit they took advantage of it.”
The Braves’ pressure took a toll, too. U-Hi had 20 turnovers.
Stinson said his team played with confidence.
“We didn’t have a lot of fears. That was fun to watch,” he said.
Ashley Woods and Kylie Collins led U-Hi with nine points each, and Woods had a team-high 11 rebounds.
“Our girls are hungry and we’d like a trophy,” Stinson said. “We’ll see if we can get after it again (today).”