SPOKANE — With both No. 2 Morton-White Pass and No. 6 Napavine having grander dreams entering the tournament, Friday morning’s 2B state consolation semifinal round matchup between league rivals came down to the wire once again in a loser-out contest.
But paced by big-time plays down the stretch from Josh Salguero and Judah Kelly, and a torrid first half start from Jake Cournyer, the Timberwolves eliminated the Tigers and advanced to the fourth/sixth-place game Saturday morning, 54-51.
After dropping a regular season matchup to the Tigers that cost them a Central 2B league championship, knocking out Napavine was extra sweet in Spokane Friday morning.
“Both teams are really prideful teams,” MWP coach Chad Cramer said. “But more than revenge, which is nice — this is not the game we wanted to be in. The team had to accept that challenge and show up and be prideful, and I thought they came ready to go and were hyped and excited to play.”
The Timberwolves got off to a hot start, equaling their 3-point total from a dismal shooting afternoon against Lind-Ritzville/Sprague in the quarterfinals Thursday with an early pair of long balls from Jake Cournyer — and an 18-9 first quarter lead.
But the Tigers battled back, spearheaded by a couple James Grose deep shots and Karsen Denault’s efforts in transition, with MWP leading 27-26 by the halftime recess.
Going back-and-forth the rest of the way, the Tigers found a way to tie the game with 1:24 left after some Cayle Kelly free throws.
Drawing a foul, Salguero missed two free throws, but responded with a huge bucket on the other end to help MWP take a lead they would never relinquish with 47 seconds left in the game.
The Tigers got one last look to tie it, down by three, with 8.8 seconds left, but Judah Kelly’s defense on Grose led to a missed shot, and a victory for MWP.
“Judah did an excellent job on James,” Cramer said. “He’s a tough guard. He made him take a shot he didn’t want to take, he did a great job a lot of the night.”
But it was Cournyer’s start in the first half, and another flurry in the third quarter that helped Morton-White Pass weather the storm and earn a win in a game they didn’t want to play in a day ago.
The senior finished with 23 points, making six 3-pointers and also hauling in seven rebounds. Judah Kelly finished with nine assists, Hunter Hazen had 10 points, and Salguero dropped another double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Napavine was led by Grose’s 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting, with Cael Stanley adding 10 points and Karsen Denault scoring 12 with six rebounds.
“I’m as proud of this win right here more than maybe any win we’ve gotten all year,” Cramer said. “This game is life, it’s about mental toughness. Last night didn’t go our way, we couldn’t make a shot and we came out on fire. That shows our mental toughness. Life will knock you down plenty but its about getting back up and coming back over and over again. My guys showed some real resilience.”
The Timberwolves will take on No. 3 Lake Roosevelt in the fourth/sixth-place game Saturday at 8 a.m., while the Tigers’ season is over.