SCAPPOOSE - The De La Salle Knights can have their Northwest League championship. The Knappa Loggers - as they've done before - will take the league's No. 1 seed to the state playoffs.
After two thrilling regular season games against De La Salle, the Loggers won the game that really counted between the two teams Saturday night, as they topped the Knights 49-44 in the contest for the NWL's No. 1 seed.
Third-ranked Knappa - which defeated No. 1-ranked Western Mennonite, second-ranked De La Salle and sixth-ranked Portland Christian all in a span of one week - will now host a first-round state playoff contest Friday vs. Monroe (10-14 overall), the No. 4 team from the Mountain View League. The winner will play a Wednesday night quarterfinal game (8:15 p.m.) in Pendleton.
Much like league champ Portland Christian had to do in 2007, the Knights will now have to travel for a tough road game. De La Salle will play at fourth-ranked Salem Academy for a first-round contest.
The Loggers earned Saturday's win by outscoring De La Salle 17-10 in a decisive fourth quarter.
The Knights had held a slim lead for much of the night leading up to the final period. After building an early 12-4 lead, the Knights led 16-14 after the first quarter, then held the ball in the second period, running off almost the entire eight minutes before missing a shot in the final seconds.
After the scoreless second quarter, the teams returned to basketball in the third, battling to an 18-18 tie.
De La Salle's 34-32 advantage didn't last long into the final quarter, as Knappa's Steve Tadei drained a 3-pointer to give the Loggers their first lead at 35-34.
Jesse Moreland added a score for a 37-34 lead, and a basket from Tadei minutes later gave Knappa a solid 41-36 advantage.
But League MVP Donta Harris rallied the Knights with three straight scores and a 42-41 De La Salle lead.
Moreland answered with a score for the Loggers, Harris was called for his fifth foul (intentional) seconds later, and Knappa freshman Mitch Cokley basically put the game away with two free throws. Nate Boardman also made two foul shots in the final minute to seal the deal.
"We were in trouble early, when they had that 12-4 lead on us," said Knappa coach Craig Cokley. "It felt a lot like the game up there (that Knappa lost, 65-50). And when you get behind a team like that, and they spread the floor on you ... it makes it real tough to come back.
"But then Mitch hits that four-point play, and that really got us right back into it. It kind of brought us back from the dead, and got us up off the mat."
Knappa's decision to pack it in on defense was made easier when the Knights began to struggle from the perimeter.
"The big stat was (the Knights) going 0-for-19 from the 3-point line," Cokley said. "We packed it in the entire night, just wanting to see if Harris was going to try and penetrate or stay out on the perimeter (Harris would go 0-for-11 from the 3-point arc).
"They kind of took care of that for us when they decided to hold the ball."
Cokley credited Moreland and Nate Boardman with sparking Knappa's second-half play.
"They were both stellar around the basket," said the coach. "Those two would not let us lose. It was actually moving to watch both of them - they were huge. Jesse hit some big shots for us, and Nate made some big free throws at the end."
Ilwaco 51, Montesano 43KELSO, Wash. - Kolby Kirby and Ross Kary picked a perfect night to play the best basketball games of their lives as the Ilwaco seniors combined for 31 points in leading the Fishermen over Montesano 51-43 in a loser-out District IV contest at Kelso Friday.
The Bulldogs employed a triangle-and-two defense to pressure Ilwaco's two leading scorers - Jack Whealdon and Karl Oman - and their scheme worked as Whealdon scored a season-low six points and Oman had 12.
To pick up the slack, Kirby scored 17 and Kary added 14 for Ilwaco, which will play Stevenson at 8 p.m. Wednesday at W.F. West in Chehalis, in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest.
The Bulldogs scored 12 straight points to take a 27-20 lead in Saturday's game, but consecutive 3-pointers by Kirby and Whealdon got Ilwaco back to within 29-26.
Kary scored on a put-back with 2:26 left in the game to give Ilwaco the lead for good, at 41-39. Kirby added five assists and six rebounds to his game-high 17 points and Kary had seven boards and two blocked shots.