YAKIMA - A few shots here, a few more free throws there could've made for a different outcome for the River Ridge Hawks in their Class 2A state quarterfinals game against top-ranked Clover Park.
The Hawks rallied from a double-digit deficit but could never get even down the stretch in a 52-49 loss to the Warriors on Thursday. The loss puts the Hawks (19-6) against second-ranked Grandview at 9 a.m. today in a loser-out game. Grandview lost to Burlington-Edison in Thursday’s opening game, 47-37.
Both River Ridge and Tumwater dropped into the loser’s bracket after quarterfinal losses at the SunDome. Tumwater lost a back-and-forth game against two-time defending champion, Squalicum, 47-43, and faces West Valley of Spokane today at 10:30 a.m.
“The kids showed tremendous heart being down 16 and to comeback and make a game out of it,” River Ridge coach Jeremy Landram said. “It was a great effort on their part. A couple shots fall down in the last 40 seconds, and it’s a different outcome.”
After trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half, the Hawks had their best shot to grab the lead in the final 20 seconds of the game.
Trailing by two at 50-48 with 18.9 seconds left, senior guard Charlie Conner was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Tana Pritchard, the 2A SPSL MVP. Conner made one of three free throws, cutting the deficit to one at 50-49. The Warriors’ Ahmaad Rorie was fouled on a loose ball following Conner’s third attempt, and made two free throws for the 52-49 lead with 15.1 seconds left. Brad Wallace’s 3-point attempt then bounced off the rim.
Hot shooting by Clover Park was the story early. The Warriors drilled five first-half 3-pointers and took their largest lead at 26-10 just a minute into the second quarter. The freshman backcourt duo of Rorie (16 points) and David Crisp (15) shined, combining for 31 of the team’s 52 points.
“We brought out the intensity, and we were ready to play,” Crisp said. “This is the first time we can get a high placing at state. We are very excited.”
Clover Park ran a box-and-one on Wallace, who finished with 12 points. Rahmel Morton led the Hawks with 13 points, including six in the fourth quarter to lead the River Ridge comeback. His bucket in the lane with 3 minutes, 33 seconds left cut Clover Park’s lead to 50-47.
The Hawks trailed by 11 at halftime – 32-23.
Squalicum 47, Tumwater 43: In a game that see-sawed throughout, Squalicum’s Zerek Csolti had his biggest four points of the game in the final 11 seconds.
With the scored tied at 43, Csolti scored on a backdoor cut, then sank two free throws to send the two-time defending champions from Bellingham into today’s semifinal against Kingston.
In today’s consolation round, Tumwater faces a West Valley of Spokane team that lost to Kingston, 67-47, on Thursday.
Following Csolti’s bucket, Tumwater turned it over on the in-bounds play, giving the ball back to Squalicum, and Csolti was immediately fouled.
Tumwater shot 47 percent, converting 17 of 36 field goal attempts, but was only 4-for-12 from the free throw line. Squalicum converted 10 of 13 free throws.
After being held scoreless in the first half, junior guard Daniel Hinkle took over in the fourth quarter. Hinkle, playing ill, had a team-high 11 points, and Kyle Warner and Zach Boede had eight points apiece.
“He had the heart of a lion,” Tumwater coach Curtis Medved said of Hinkle.
Hinkle was 3-for-4 from 3-point range and had back-to-back 3s in the fourth quarter that gave Tumwater a 42-39 lead with 4:51 left in the game.
Neither team had more than a three-point lead throughout the game.