SPOKANE — The Indians weren’t about to overthink the situation.
Less than two weeks earlier, they’d played Willapa Valley with a district championship on the line. They put their two best defenders on the Vikings’ top scorers, hit a handful of timely three-pointers and rode an early lead to a convincing win.
The only difference Friday morning was the setting — the Spokane Arena in a loser-out State 2B tournament game — and the size of the trophy up for grabs.
And with the season on the line, Hayden Farbo and Westin Wallace came up big on both ends of the floor and Toledo eliminated Willapa Valley, 58-40, to earn a spot in Saturday morning’s fourth-place game.
Toledo, which boasts a roster with 10 seniors, was eliminated a game shy of the trophy round in each of the last two years.
“The last two years we’ve been the guy that lost today, and they’ve earned it,” Toledo coach Grady Fallon said of his team. “A lot of those guys put in a ton of time shooting, and they’ve played together for a long time, and it just shows that if you put in the time it can pay off.”
To get their, they had to bounce back from a 57-50 loss to defending state champ Kittitas on Thursday in the quarterfinals.
“We’ve been playing for that game since we were little, so when we lose it, it’s heartbreaking,” Farbo said. “But we knew it’s our time to bounce back hard, and it’s against Willapa, so we knew what we had to do.”
What they had to do was repeat their district championship game performance. The 18-point margin of victory wasn’t an exact replica of the 58-37 win on Feb. 16, but it was close enough. Farbo held Viking guard Logan Walker to four points, and Arceo-Hansen held Matt Pearson — averaging 21.5 in two tournament games — to 12 points.
“We knew they had some really good scorers, so we figured if we took them away as much as we could their offense would kind of slow down,” Farbo said, “because we know they can score buckets pretty easily.”
Toledo’s defense allowed just 12 first-half points, and the Indians built on their 11-point halftime lead the rest of the way.
Offensively, meanwhile, the Indians worked the ball inside early and often. Wallace finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five blocked shots, the latest in a solid playoff run from the 6-foot-5 senior.
“He’s kind of gotten better and better — more confidence, maybe,” Fallon said of Wallace. “The guys are getting it to him more, too. There’s more of an emphasis to establish that inside, and that opens up the outside stuff.”
“Since the playoffs started he’s really kicked it into another gear,” Farbo said. “I think it’s just been the way we’ve played. We’ve focused more on getting it inside, because we know we have two of the best bigs in the state.”
That also opened up shots for the Indians’ guards. Farbo, who had admittedly been in a monthlong slump, took advantage, even after missing his first attempt.
“It felt good, but it was just way short, so I was like, ‘Aw, I probably won’t shoot again,’” he said. “But I was just too open not to shoot it. And then I ended up getting one in…”
Farbo finished with 14 points and went 4 of 5 from behind the arc, adding three assists and a steal. Brian Wood chipped in 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting, and Toledo shot 7 of 13 from long range as a team.
Toledo (23-4) will take on Toutle Lake or Lake Roosevelt at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, but win or lose will take home its first trophy in five years.
“These guys are, as a team, playing pretty well at the end,” Fallon said. “And at least now we have a trophy to show for it.”