KNAPPA — The Knappa Loggers made their case for a No. 1 ranking Saturday afternoon.
And there’s no better way to make it than beating the No. 1-ranked team, which the Loggers did on their home floor, scoring a 49-47 win over top-ranked Western Mennonite.
A late basket by Knappa’s Eli Takalo held up, the Loggers made a big defensive stop, and Chris Spencer’s team climbed to No. 2 in the latest rankings.
“It was a great game, between two good teams in a playoff atmosphere,” Spencer said.
The first quarter ended with Knappa leading, 5-4.
“We were sort of feeling each other out, maybe some jitters,” Spencer said. “The defenses were not giving up anything. There were no gimme shots.”
The Loggers trailed 18-17 at halftime, but as they have all season, the Loggers owned the third quarter.
“We came out and played extremely well in the third quarter,” and took a six-point lead, Spencer said. “Dale (Takalo) hit two huge 3-pointers, and Colton (Weirup) got another, and we just kept battling into the fourth quarter.”
Western Mennonite rallied and took a brief lead in the fourth, before Knappa’s Timber Engblom tied it with a free throw with 45 seconds left.
Knappa grabbed the lead with 25 seconds remaining, as Eli Takalo slipped past a defender, took it the basket and scored.
In a mad scramble by the Pioneers to get the potential game-winning shot, the Loggers tipped the final attempt, and “we played our best defensive possession of the season,” Spencer said, preventing the visitors from scoring.
Dale Takalo scored 14 of his 19 in the second half, and Kaleb Miller — coming off a concussion the previous week — added a couple of big baskets, and “we just played smart, patient basketball, working it around to get the right shot,” Spencer said. “The kids executed everything perfectly — I couldn’t have asked for a better effort. The last nine days, no one has played better 2A basketball than we have.”