Defense ruled the gym at Stadium High School in the opening round of the West Central District 4A boys basketball tournament Thursday night.
Emerald Ridge and Stadium challenged each other’s shots, played pressure defense, forced turnovers, and made hard fouls to prevent any easy baskets.
In the end, Stadium prevailed 45-44 to advance to the district quarterfinal.
“I thought it was going to be a grind-out game,” said Stadium coach Doug Cocke’. “It was one heck of a defensive struggle – not pretty on the eyes for the fans.”
The Tigers don’t care what it looked like – they’ll take the win. Stadium (14-6) will play Curtis on Saturday in a 2:45 p.m. game at Auburn High School.
Stadium won a game in which it scored exactly two points in the first 5 minutes, 45 seconds. However, the Tigers were trailing just 5-2 at that point.
Senior guard Ben Cottrill came off the bench and calmly hit a game-tying 3-pointer from the top of the key on his first trip down the floor.
He added a buzzer-beating jumper at the end of the first quarter, and another 3-pointer late in the third quarter to open up a 28-17 Stadium lead.
“Our offense was struggling when I came in,” said Cottrill. “I was just looking for my shots, and looking to find other people’s shots.”
Stadium took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter, only to see a ferocious comeback bid by the Jaguars. Emerald Ridge pulled within two points with 7 seconds remaining, and they fouled Stadium’s Mark Galanesi.
Galanesi hit both free throws for a 45-41 lead, rendering Raeshon Scales’ 3-pointer at the buzzer meaningless.
Emerald Ridge (11-11) will play a loser-out game against Tahoma on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. at Mt. Tahoma High School.
Senior guard Marcus Harris scored 22 points for Emerald Ridge, leading all scorers.