For the South Sound’s leading scorer in points-per-game average during the regular season — 28.2 — Yelm’s Christian Davis was about as quiet as can be Monday.
He put up five points in the first half against Puyallup in a Class 4A West Central District 3 elimination game.
A free throw here, a free throw there — but no field goals.
“A little nervous, a little chills,” Davis said. “But once I got in the game, it got easier.”
He scored Yelm’s first points out of the locker room on a contested layup from the left side. And its last, in the form of four game-sealing free throws.
Davis rallied to tie for a game-high 27 points as the Tornados ground out a 72-62 win at Stadium High School to knock Puyallup out of the playoffs.
“Christian’s one of those kids, if he’s not feeling it, he can get the ball over to those other guys,” Yelm coach Jordan Barnes said. “I think that once he started feeling it and getting some rotations, he started getting comfortable.
“I’m glad he did it when he did.”
Davis hit three layups in two minutes as Yelm went on a 20-11 run to open the fourth quarter. He scored 18 of his 27 points in the final period.
“Fourth quarter, I’ve got to go,” Davis said. “I don’t want to lose, so I just took over and started scoring.”
Yelm never trailed after Joey Hawks hit one of his three first-half 3-pointers with 2 minutes, 29 seconds to go in the first quarter. Hawks finished with 14 for the Tornados.
But Yelm’s early fourth-quarter run was eclipsed by Puyallup with less than three minutes to play.
Deven Neff sunk two 3-pointers — he had four total and finished with 27 points — as part of a 10-1 Puyallup run, and the Vikings crept within three points with 1:18 to play. Jaden Vollmen scored another 20 for Puyallup.
But three points were as close as the Vikings got.
Davis hit two free throws on the next trip down the floor — he finished 17 of 21 (80 percent) from the line. And he sandwiched another contested layup from the left side in between two Puyallup turnovers.
And Davis’ final trip to the free-throw line on the following possession turned into four shots after the Vikings got called for a technical foul for having six players on the floor.
Cool and collected — any early nerves gone — Davis netted all four.
“Those sealed the game for sure,” Davis said. “Once they got the technical, I was like, ‘I’m going to make all of these, and we’ll seal the game and be done.’ ”
And he did to give Yelm its final 10-point advantage.
“We want it more than anybody,” Davis said. “Everybody thinks we’re not supposed to be here, but we’re trying to upset everybody.”
Yelm (11-12) plays Kentridge (14-10) in an elimination, winner-to-state game at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Stadium High. Yelm hasn’t made the state playoffs since 2003.
“It’s an exciting time,” Barnes said. “We’re going to take on anyone, we’re going to give it our best shot. Whatever happens, happens.”