PENDLETON - They were playing "Late Night with the Knappa Loggers" Wednesday night in Pendleton, and the Days Creek Wolves were the unfortunate contestants in the first round.
The Wolves were clearly in over their heads in the Class 2A state quarterfinal game at the Pendleton Convention Center, as Knappa went unchallenged from start to finish in a 74-48 victory.
The quarterfinal round started Wednesday morning with Enterprise edging Weston-McEwen 59-57 (the North Coast's Tal Gohl served as one of the two referees in the opener). Western Mennonite followed with a 61-34 win over North Douglas.
"We came out with a lot of energy tonight," said Knappa coach Will Isom, whose team arrived Tuesday and sat around all day Wednesday, before the 8:15 p.m. start. "The kids were ready to go. They were chomping to get going, and by game time, they were good to go."
And go they did. Knappa had 14 steals and forced 19 turnovers, and shot 32-of-51 from the field for 63 percent.
Days Creek is eliminated from championship contention and drops into the consolation bracket, while the Loggers move on and will play Central Linn (a narrow 76-71 winner over Stanfield) in a late night semifinal Friday (8:15 p.m.).
The winner will face either Enterprise or Western Mennonite in Saturday night's state championship contest.
A Class 1A school a year ago, Days Creek received a rude welcome in its first visit to the Convention Center, as Knappa jumped all over the Wolves in the first period.
Brian Lampa and Brian Kaul both canned 3-pointers in the opening quarter, and Dalton Kelly, Trevor Oja, Dillion Moreland and Eddie Corder all had baskets in transition to give the Loggers a commanding 16-7 lead after one period.
It only got worse for the Wolves in the second quarter.
Knappa turned up the defensive pressure and forced several Days Creek turnovers, resulting in easy scores for Moreland, Oja and Kyle Kelly.
Dalton Kelly added a pair of jumpers and the lead reached 36-12. Knappa connected on 18-of-26 shots (69 percent) in the first half.
"Defensively, we were really able to dictate the game in the first half," Isom said. "We got up and pressured them, and we were able to force some frustration, and they turned the ball over. That keyed our offense. We were able to get some fast break points and some easy hoops."
Six points apiece from Dalton Kelly and Kaul in the third quarter helped the Loggers build a 57-24 advantage.
"I was impressed with Dalton," Isom said. "Just from a defensive and rebounding standpoint, he really controlled the paint for us. He played big, and he didn't even play most of the second half."
Kelly finished with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Kaul was named Knappa's Player of the Game, with a game-high 17 points. Moreland added nine points, seven rebounds and four steals.
The Wolves hit a trio of 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter, but Kaul answered with two treys of his own, and the Logger bench eventually finished things off.
A jumper from Anthony Brockey and a trey by Austin Palek highlighted Knappa's strong finish.
The Loggers' win streak is now 18 in a row.
"We're right where we want to be," Isom said. "We'll practice tomorrow, have a team meeting, go over our game plan, and by Friday night, we're going to get after it."
Central Linn "has a lot of weapons," he said. "They're well-coached, they've got good athletes, and they're going to be all we can handle.
"They played in the state championship game last year, so they have that experience. It's gonna be a heck of a game."