The Knappa Loggers gave a lesson in how to win big games on the road Friday night, with a 78-76 victory over No. 2-ranked Toledo, on the Boomers' home floor.
The only unbeaten team (10-0) at the 2A level, Knappa went on to easily win Toledo's “Beach Bash” Invitational with an anticlimactic 59-26 win over Harrisburg Saturday, but Friday's semifinal was the true championship game of the tournament.
It was a “big-time win tonight,” said Knappa coach Paul Isom, following Friday's victory. “The guys really played well. Every guy made some huge plays.”
The No. 3-ranked Loggers — who are somehow still ranked behind Toledo in the OSAA rankings — let a 17-point third quarter lead slip away. Knappa even led 71-60 with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth, as a furious rally helped the Boomers tie the game at 76-76 with nine seconds left.
But Knappa's Eli Takalo hit an eight-foot jumper as time expired to give the Loggers the victory.
Had Toledo not lost a starter to an injury in the opening minutes of the game, and if the Boomers had made just one more of their attempted 33 3-pointers (instead of missing 23), the game could have turned out differently.
The difference in the game came down to disciplined, patient, offensive basketball. Which Knappa showed, and Toledo did not.
In addition to knocking down several big 3-pointers, the Loggers were picking up most of their points on close-range drives to the hoop. Knappa finished 33-of-56 from the field, to Toledo's 25-for-58.
The Boomers, meanwhile, spent the majority of the night launching NBA-length 3-pointers, and finished 10-of-33 from the 3-point line.
Toledo made four 3-point bombs in the fourth quarter comeback, but Knappa remained patient on offense, working the ball into Mason Westerholm and Takalo for easy scores, with some fastbreak layups for Kanai Phillip and a pair of clutch scores from Cameron Miethe late in the game.
Toledo senior Conner Marchant was a one-man show in the Boomer comeback, finishing the night with 35 points.
Trailing 71-60 with just over two minutes remaining, Marchant trimmed Knappa's lead to 75-73 with 20 seconds left, hitting a 3-pointer (with another from Mason McAlpine), converting a three-point play, then making three straight free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point shot with nine seconds remaining.
After a Logger shot with three seconds left that was deflected out of bounds, Devin Hoover inbounded to Takalo, who hit the game-winner as time expired.
“Joe Ramvick had some foul trouble, but was a monster on defense when he was in,” Isom said. “Then Cameron came in and played extended minutes, and was tasked with shutting down one of their best players and did awesome. He also added some big time buckets.”
Hoover and Takalo both scored 21 points to lead the Loggers, with Westerholm tossing in 16 and Phillip adding 14. Miethe was the only other Logger to score, with six points.
“Mason, Devin, Eli and Kanai all were great on both ends,” Isom said. “Devin had the tough task of guarding Marchant all game and did a really nice job, making things difficult. And then (the Boomers) didn't really have an answer for Eli down low. All in all, just a great win on the road against one of the best teams in the state.”
The Boomers lost starter Clifton Howard to an ankle injury in the opening minutes, while Ramvick and Westerholm both had four fouls midway through the second half.
Loggers 59, Harrisburg 26
In the tournament finale against Harrisburg, Knappa led just 12-7 after one quarter, then just 26-17 at halftime.
The second half was all Loggers, who outscored Harrisburg 20-0 in the third quarter to secure the win.
Knappa “came out pretty sluggish, but Joe (Ramvick) really got us going in the second quarter,” said Logger coach Paul Isom. “He hit three three's and ended up leading us in scoring with 15 for the game. And then everyone else finally got going in the third quarter.”
It was a “great weekend for the team overall,” Isom said. “We still have a lot of work left to do, but obviously we couldn't ask for a better start to the season.”
Knappa's Eli Takalo was named tournament Most Valuable Player and was joined by Devin Hoover on the all-tournament team.
The Loggers face some much easier competition this week, with a return to Northwest League play against Neah-Kah-Nie (2-5) Tuesday and Faith Bible (1-7) Thursday.