Knappa senior Tristin Wallace

Tristin Wallace scored nine points to keep Knappa within striking distance of Columbia Christian.

The Columbia Christian boys basketball team brought a No. 3 ranking to Knappa for one of the biggest meetings of the season at the 2A level Thursday night — a meeting that will likely take place at least two more times before it’s over.

And Thursday’s game went the way of the Knights, who gained some revenge for their loss at Knappa last season with a 55-47 win over the Loggers.

Columbia Christian opened up a 13-point lead in the second half, then had to hold off the Loggers in the fourth quarter to get the win.

“We had a wide-open look at a three to tie it … it just didn’t go down,” said Knappa coach Paul Isom, of a late Logger shot. “But if anyone had told me we’d be within three points with a minute left, I would have taken it.”

Still, “I was super proud of our effort tonight,” Isom said. “(The Knights) had just come off competing in the Les Schwab Invitational against 6A teams. Ben Gregg is a D1 prospect, Elijah (Munyan) is a D1 prospect … their lowest-scoring starter is a 6-10 sophomore (Moritz Hartwich) … it would be nice to have that problem.”

Gregg and Munyan combined for 33 of Columbia’s 55 points in Thursday’s game.

The Loggers kept it close with a balanced attack, as Timber Engblom led Knappa with 12 points, followed by Joe Ramvick and Eli Takalo with 10 apiece and Tristin Wallace with nine.

“Tristin hit some big shots, and kind of came out of his shell,” Isom said. “We always knew he had it in him, and he really gave us some pop off the bench tonight.”

Also providing big defensive efforts were Joe Ramvick and Ty Vanderburg, while Takalo had the difficult task of guarding and being guarded by Gregg, a 6-8 sophomore.

“Our kids just did a great job of staying with them,” Isom said. “And our crowd was unbelievable. Their coach (Bart Valentine) told me before the game, ‘you guys have the best home crowd in the state.’ And I wouldn’t disagree with that.”

Last year, the Loggers defeated Columbia Christian 64-58 at Knappa, but the Knights defeated Knappa 66-46 at Columbia, and again 64-44 in the league championship at Forest Grove.

The Knights and Loggers play again Feb. 2 at Columbia Christian, and the two will likely meet for the league’s No. 1 seed at a neutral site in the postseason league playoffs. They could also meet in the state tournament.

In the latest game, the Knights jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead, and led 18-6 after one quarter.

But it takes a much bigger lead than that to close out Knappa, which opened the second period on a 7-0 run and rallied to within 18-13.

Columbia Christian still led at the break, 30-22, then pushed the lead back to 37-24 with 5:25 left in the third quarter.

But back came the Loggers once again, reeling off an 11-3 run to cut the Knights’ lead to 40-35.

Knappa trimmed Columbia’s lead to 50-47 with 1:03 left in regulation, before the Knights scored two unanswered buckets to make it 54-47, enough to secure the victory.

Knappa has a home game Saturday vs. Nestucca, followed by a nonleague road game Monday at Naselle.

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Daily Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or ghenley@dailyastorian.com.

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