Two wins in the hotly contested 3A SPSL regular-season series netted Sumner High School its first boys basketball league championship in more than three decades.
And one win Wednesday night was the great equalizer – at least that is how White River High School sees it.
But the Hornets had to sweat it out, watching two game-winning attempts by the Spartans in the final five seconds go awry before escaping with a 42-41 victory in the Class 2A West Central District quarterfinals at Curtis High School.
White River (17-7) earned a return trip to the regional championships with a victory, and now will faces Foster in the district semifinals Friday night. Sumner (16-8) faces an elimination game if it still wants to earn a spot in the round of 16.
The Spartans surely had a lot going on Wednesday, and it started well before the game when point guard Keenen Jackson did not show up at the team bus. Coach Brett McDaniel said he had no idea why the senior missed the game.
The Hornets led the whole game, starting with Brandon Dove’s three-point play on the opening series.
Yet Sumner never let this one get away behind guards Jace Johnson (11 points) and Riley Bruil (10 points).
The Spartans did suffer one final cold spell, going scoreless for a span of 2:40 in the fourth quarter – right at the same time the Hornets made their move.
White River grabbed a 41-33 lead on a Dove three-point play with 3:16 to go, and things looked promising.
But then the Hornets got sloppy, missing two free throws and committing an inbounds turnover in the backcourt.
Johnson came off a pick and canned a 15-footer for the Spartans to cut White River’s lead to 42-41 with 24 seconds left.
After a timeout, the Hornets decided to throw long, but the basketball went off Logan Goethals’ hands for a final turnover that gave Sumner one last chance.
“The last 30 seconds of the game,
I was getting a little worried,” Dove said. “But I had confidence in my teammates.”
Bruil, who handled much of the ball-handling chores for Sumner, turned the corner off the right block with five seconds remaining and got off a tough 12-foot banker.
“I thought he was going to make it,” White River coach Rick Tripp said.
It hit too hard, but the ball was tipped to Austin Ford in the left corner. His 3-pointer at the buzzer was wide.
“For sure, they got us during (the regular season),” Tripp said. “This time, we made some plays, just not always at the right time. We are thankful, for sure.”
Fife 37, Olympic 36: Alex Lemoncelli’s steal and free throw in the final seconds lifted the 2A SPSL Trojans into their first regional berth since 2011 with a victory at Foss High School.
With 6-foot-7 Kaleb McGary ailing with a stomach flu and also in foul trouble, guard Austin Woods rescued Fife (19-5) with eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter to erase a deficit.
With the game tied at 36, Olympic tried a lazy cross-court pass that was picked off by Lemoncelli, who drove to the basket and was fouled by Shane Matheny.
Lemoncelli missed the first free throw. His second attempt hit the front of the rim but bounced back through the hoop for a 37-36 Fife lead with 4.6 seconds remaining
Olympic (15-7) never got off a shot, turning it over near midcourt – the last of four consecutive turnovers in the final 1:37.
Bremerton 55, Clover Park 53: Philip Winston scored 17 points, and the Warriors (11-12) took it right down to the end before losing to the Olympic League champion and 10th-ranked Knights at Foss High.
Sumner 52, Olympic 47: The Trojans had the fourth-ranked Spartans right where they wanted them getting out to a big lead at Bellarmine Prep.
But a technical foul on the Olympic bench near the end of the third quarter changed things. Subsequently the Trojans – up 37-27 at the time – lost all of their lead.
Sumner scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter and never looked back. Jamie Lange led the Spartans (22-2) with 13 points.
White River 70, Fife 43: The No. 9 Hornets woke up from a sluggish first half by outscoring the Trojans in the third quarter, 19-7, in clinching a regional spot at Bellarmine Prep.
Amanda Lance scored 22 points to lead White River (19-5)Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org @ManyHatsMilles