State high school basketball championships are not won in mid-December, but something important was collected Tuesday night at White River High School.
A leg up.
Last season, Clover Park won the early meeting against the Hornets – and used that to go on and win the SPSL 2A by two games over them and Sumner.
This time around, the early advantage goes to fifth-ranked White River, which had five players in double figures – led by sophomore Dustin France’s 18 points – to grab a 79-68 win at home over the No. 3 Warriors.
Alex Sayler added 15 points while Robert Foster chipped in with 14 – 12 coming in the team’s 29-point fourth quarter.
“That is why I feel we have the potential to be better than last season – we have seven guys who can go for 20 (points) any night,” White River coach Rick Tripp said.
David Crisp paced the Warriors (2-3) with 18 points, but it was an off-night for the Clover Park standout. He was 5-for-17 shooting from the field and committed four turnovers. Travis Parker added 17 and Philip Winston had 15.
The teams hold their rematch Jan. 18 in Lakewood.
Clover Park had a 38-32 lead after Crisp’s 3-pointer early in the third quarter.
White River (5-1) scored on five of its next six possessions and took the lead for good, 43-32, on France’s 3-pointer.
The lead was neither safe nor really threatened after that. Every time the Warriors made a bucket in the fourth quarter to inch closer, France made something happen.
White River made eight of its 13 shots from the floor in the fourth quarter – and all eight of its free throws in the final 38.5 seconds.
The effort left Clover Park coach Mel Ninnis seething.
“Man, they’re talented enough,” Ninnis said of his players. “I need to teach the humility instead of (allowing) the live arrogance. It is my responsibility – I am the coach.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com blogs.thenewstribune.com/preps @ManyHatsMilles