MOSSYROCK — In a battle atop the 1B Columbia Valley League standings, the 1B No. 8 Mossyrock boys basketball team fell in a tight contest that came down to the wire to 1B No. 5 Willapa Valley, 51-49.
The Vikings West, and league champion Willapa Valley, nailed some clutch free throws at the end of a physical, chippy game in Mossyrock Friday night to earn a bye all the way to the 1B District 4 semifinals, and won’t play again until February 15.
The Vikings East, meanwhile, will lament some late-game mistakes that cost them a chance at an upset, and a free trip to the semis themselves. Though, Mossy does earn a bye to the district quarterfinal round, which begins February 13.
“They’re a really good team,” Mossyrock coach Tom Kelly said. “They had 22 in the first half against our man defense, that was pretty good to hold it down like that. With Zack (Munoz) being out, we’re not as deep as we’d like to be. They’re playing hard like that and we just ran out of gas.”
After a back-and-forth first half, which saw Mossyrock trail by one at the break, the Vikings East made a big run late in the third, taking a five-point lead into the fourth quarter thanks to three long-ball makes from sophomore guard Easton Kolb.
Kolb finished the game with a team-high 17 points on five 3-pointers made and hauled in another team-high eight rebounds, setting the pace for a torrid fourth quarter that saw both teams scraping for a last regular season win.
But a quartet of clutch free throws down the stretch from Valley’s Riley Pearson on two separate trips gave Willapa Valley the cushion it needed to pull off the win and finish its league season unbeaten.
Keegan Kolb finished with nine points, and Cooper Young had a good night on the glass, with eight points and seven rebounds.
Mossyrock will now look to get healthy before making a run at a state berth in the district tournament with some time off to recover and get some pieces back.
“This is our third game this week,” Kelly said. “Getting our legs fresh and getting Zack back will help with districts and help our rotation. Getting some rest will be key.”