The unbeaten Knappa Loggers cleared one of the last remaining hurdles between themselves and a perfect regular season Wednesday night.
Hosting their longtime nemesis from Columbia Christian, Knappa knocked off the Knights 52-49, in a Northwest League boys basketball showdown that could go a long ways in determining the No. 1 seed at the state tournament.
And the Loggers did it in the most dramatic fashion, as Kanai Phillip banked in a 3-pointer from two feet behind the arc as time expired to snap a 49-49 tie.
With the victory, the Loggers improve to 15-0 overall, 7-0 in league, and should vault Knappa right back into the No. 1 spot in the state rankings. The Loggers came into the game ranked third, while No. 8 Columbia Christian falls to 10-4 overall.
Knappa coach Paul Isom called it a “hard fought win.”
He added, “We got off to a great start and really controlled the game for the most part in the first half.”
The Loggers built an early 7-0 lead, and held a 19-13 advantage after one quarter.
But, Isom said, “we gave up a 5-0 run in the last 30 seconds of the half to give them some momentum,” as Knappa’s halftime lead was trimmed to 28-23.
The Loggers held a slim advantage for most of the third quarter, before the Knights rallied to tie the game at 43-43 heading into the fourth.
“The second half was tight most of the time, but we led nearly the whole game until the last few minutes,” Isom said. “But we held our composure and executed down the stretch. We really played great defense.”
The contest was tied 49-49 with 1:32 remaining, and it was still 49-49 after Columbia Christian missed two free throws with three seconds left.
After the missed free throws, “we were able to get Kanai the ball and he hit the shot, a bank three as the time expired,” Isom said. “Just a great effort by all of our guys.”
Devin Hoover led Knappa with 14 points, followed by Mason Westerholm with 12 (on four 3-pointers), and Phillip finished with 11 points.
The Knights held Eli Takalo to just nine points, and Joe Ramvick added six.
Westerholm “was a monster on defense,” Isom said, “defending their 7-foot post (junior Moritz Hartwich). Camo (Miethe) again came in and gave us a spark, and locked down their best perimeter player. Devin and Eli both hit some big shots. And Joe was his usual disruptive self on defense.”
The Loggers’ lone remaining challenge will be Feb. 10 at Columbia Christian.