Vikings survive furious rally from Fighting Irish to advance to 1B title game


SPOKANE — “Defense wins.”

Mossyrock boys basketball head coach Tom Kelly breaks every huddle with those two words. On Friday, March 1 in the 1B semifinals, the Vikings’ defense helped them advance to the 1B championship game.

They will compete in the state title game for the first time since 2016, when they finished second in the 2B tournament. The Vikings outlasted fourth-seeded DeSales in the 1B semifinals, 58-54, on Friday, March 1 thanks to a strong first half and resilient fourth quarter.

“It was great. They’ve done this all year. This is what we do, and now we’re in the state title game,” Kelly said of his team’s grit in the fourth quarter. “They deserve it. They put the work in.”

Mossyrock’s offense won in the first half, as Tyce Vigre and Zach Munoz combined to score 27 of Mossyrock’s 38 first-half points. Vigre was especially hot in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his 15 first-half points in the period. 

The Vikings led 38-24 at halftime, but in the state semifinals, no lead is comfortable. The Fighting Irish rallied in the third, using a 15-4 run to slice the deficit to three. Vigre delivered a shot shortly before the buzzer sounded for his first field goal of the second half.

The Fighting Irish made the Vikings sweat in the fourth quarter. Once down by 17, they crawled all the way back to make it a 52-51 game with 2 minutes and 13 seconds left. DeSales drilled four 3-pointers in the half, including two by Cade McCollaugh. 

Vigre, who only had two points in the third quarter, nailed a clutch 3-pointer with 1 minute and 25 seconds left to give Mossyrock a 55-51 lead. He finished with 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.

“I had a calm mindset in that moment. I wasn’t really thinking much, just about shooting threes,” Vigre said.

The Vikings’ defense delivered on its mantra of “defense wins,” locking down DeSales’ Spencer Green in the final minute to seal the 58-54 victory. Defensively, they recorded six steals and four blocks, and they controlled the rebound game, outrebounding DeSales 37-28. 

“You have to make the other team score less points than we do. We chant ‘defense wins’ every time we have a huddle,” Mossyrock guard Luke Cooper said. “That’s what got us here.”

The Vikings move on to the 1B state championship game against reigning state champion, No. 2 Wellpinit, which tips off at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Wellpinit defeated Mossyrock in a regional matchup, 58-47, on Feb. 24 in their only previous meeting this season.