Acorns Roar Past Vikings into District Title Game

'IT'S GOING TO BE LOUD, GIVE THEM A SHOW': Oakville Earns First Regional Bid Since 2014 with Win Over Mossyrock


OAKVILLE — After flying under the radar most of the winter, breezing through the 1B Coastal League, getting a double-bye in the district tournament, and having to sit a week and a half between games, the Oakville boys basketball team came back and made their statement:

The Acorns are for real.

Oakville took the lead a minute into its 1B District 4 semifinal against Mossyrock and never looked back, controlling the flow all night long in a 74-61 win to earn a chance to cut down the district nets Saturday.

“It’s the best,” head coach Marcus Whittaker said. “I’m on cloud nine.”

Along with their spot in the district title game, the Acorns sealed a regional bid, punching their ticket back to the State tournament after an appearance last season, and did so in front of a gymnasium packed with what had to be most of the population of Oakville.

“It’s a lot,” Whittaker said. “We have eighth graders coming up to us, telling us that they can’t wait for next year, for them to be in high school playing here. The community’s coming out, there’s elderly folks coming out. It’s a blessing. 

I think the community needed something like this, bringing everybody back together again. Family, friends, alumni who haven’t been back in 20 years, they’re coming back to support us. It’s definitely a blessing.”

And the Acorns did it by firing on just about all of their cylinders, starting down low. Oakville fed Courtney Price early and often in the post, and the junior center delivered, getting free for six of the Acorns’ first 12 points. By halftime, he had 16, and he finished the night with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double.

“He’s our go-to,” junior guard Eddie Klatush said. “If they’re in man or we’ve got him in one-on-one, we go to him. I don’t think there’s anyone in our league that can stop him. It was important to get him going early and to keep him going.”

Once Price got going, the rest of the Acorns’ offense fit in around him. In the second quarter, Klatush found his rhythm, scoring seven of Oakville’s first 11 points as the hosts worked out to an 11-point lead.

That included an 3-pointer from NBA range — Klatush’s lone triple of the night — but the junior didn’t even see it go in. He was already turned around and roaring in celebration by the time it hit twine.

“They were talking, the crowd was lit, it was everything,” he said. “I had to turn it up, so that’s what I did.”

Klatush finished with 19 points, Ashton Boyd had 15, and Daniel Rodas added 14. But when the Vikings started to press up to contain Oakville’s guards, Price got free down low again, going on a 6-1 run in the final two minutes of the first half by himself to give the Acorns a 13-point lead at the break.

“Having that three-headed monster, it’s tough for defenses to adjust to it,” Whittaker said. “And if they adjust, then we’re going to adjust.”

Zackary Munoz led Mossyrock with 17 points, hitting five 3-pointers. Most of the rest of the Vikings’ offense came off the glass; Mossyrock racked up 22 offensive rebounds, and scored 22 points in the paint.

Cooper Young scored 15 points, and Hunter Isom had 11 and eight rebounds. Easton Kolb led the Vikings with 10 boards.

“They were pressing too hard,” Mossyrock coach Tom Kelly said. “These boys, they play hard, but they were pressing too hard.”

Despite leading by double-digits the entire second half, the Acorns began pressing a bit too hard as well. Oakville turned the ball over 16 times after halftime — it finished with 25 total turnovers — trying too much to get out in transition while Whittaker was yelling for them to slow the game down and bleed clock.

But as he noted, that speed is how his team has won all of its games this season; it can be hard to pull back on the reins.

“Everything was 100 miles an hour, even when we’re screaming at them to slow down,” he said. “But that just shows me that they really want it, they really want to win.”

Those turnovers — combined with a few clutch shots on the other end — helped Mossyrock get the lead down to 10 with three minutes remaining. The Vikings had a chance to cut it to single digits at the line, but missed their free throw, and soon Klatush was sprinting coast-to-coast for a layup. 

The Acorns forced another turnover on the Vikings’ next possession, and a Shayden Baker transition bucket put things well and truly away as the loud crowd got even louder.

“I told them at practice, ‘It’s going to be loud, give them a show,’” Whittaker said. “And they’re doing it. They’re not out being disrespectful, they’re not trying to be flashy. They’re just going out and playing basketball, and every bucket, the crowd is letting them know that they’re here. They love it.”

Mossyrock will get a day to collect itself and get things back together before getting one more game for its season. The Vikings will face Taholah at Montesano on Friday, in a loser-out, winner-to-State matchup.

“We don’t lose two games in a row,” Kelly said. “At least my teams in the past didn’t. When we went to State, we never lost two games in a row. You can’t dwell on this. They’ll flush the toilet, and they’ll be ready to go.”

On the other side of things, Oakville will get an extra day off, then will head to Montesano on Saturday for a district title showdown against Willapa Valley, which knocked off Columbia Adventist 64-32 in the other semifinal.

The Acorns have their regional bid. Saturday, they’ll get the chance to cut down district nets for the first time since 2014.

“It means everything,” Klatush said. “We’ve worked years for this. When I came here, we were the team getting blown out, and now the tables have turned and we’re on the good side of things. It feels good to come out here, ball in front of my family and friends, and get the dub. Now we’re going to State.”