Though it’s been a few years since the Morton-White Pass boys basketball team has gotten to cut down the nets at the 2B District 4 championship game, it made sure to take advantage of the opportunity this season, defeating Adna Saturday night in a packed W.F. West gym, 67-43.
The Timberwolves let the Pirates hang around, after Adna drilled some 3-pointers to take an early lead, but then locked down a scorching-hot Adna and rolled in the third quarter to yet another dominant district win.
It’s the T-Wolves’ first district championship since 2015, and avenges a loss in the district title a year ago to Kalama.
“It was my biggest motivator,” MWP forward Josh Salguero said. “Last year when I saw the other team win and cheering and everything with the whole community happy for them, it made me jealous. This year, I tried my hardest to get that same feeling.”
Motivated all year by that loss, Salguero again helped guide MWP to a win, scoring 20 points and hauling in 12 rebounds to set the tone for the win against an undersized Adna lineup.
The Pirates, after upset victories of Napavine and Wahkiakum, threw a new-look defense at Salguero and the Timberwolves, and though they had to fight through some early feeling-out minutes, the final 16 minutes couldn’t have been much better.
“We really play off of how Josh is defended,” MWP coach Chad Cramer said. “And everyone plays him a little differently. Adna had a little bit of a different defense that they were trying and it confused us a little bit to start. And we made a quick, simple adjustment that Josh came up with, and it worked out the gate.”
Leading by four at the half, the Timberwolves trotted into the locker room confident that — after putting 32 points on the board in a semifinal win against Chief Leschi in the third quarter — they could do the same against Adna.
Eight minutes after halftime, a 23-9 MWP run effectively clinched the Timberwolves district championship.
Hunter Hazen again took advantage of the attention on Salguero, scoring a game-high 24 points, and Jake Cournyer added another 11.
More importantly, the T-Wolves held the Pirates to a measly 28% shooting, with Eli Smith the only Pirate in double figures with 14 points.
“It’s such a tough matchup for us physically,” Pirate coach Luke Salme said. “They do such a good job of getting it to Josh (Salguero). When their shooters are gonna make 3s and Hazen is the toughest athlete on the floor, we’re not going to beat them. When they play like that, we’re probably not going to beat them.”
Now both squads will await what the seeding committee has in store for them, as Morton-White Pass is almost assuredly a top-4 seed and guaranteed a trip to Spokane, while the Pirates are on the fringes of top-8 contention.
Those seedings will be announced Sunday around 12:30 p.m. by the WIAA.