Twice this week, W.F. West High School came from behind to stage upsets that landed the Bearcats in Friday night’s 2A state tournament semi-finals.
This time, though there were some dicey moments near the end, ninth-ranked W.F. West never trailed, built as much as a 14-point lead and held on for a 53-50 victory over last year’s state champion, Foss, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“We’ve been tough all year but it’s really started to gel these past few weeks,” said Bearcats coach Chris White. “These guys are resilient. They love each other and believe in each other. They loved the process and the journey.”
In their first round win over North Kitsap and a quarterfinal defeat of top-ranked Selah, the Bearcats had to come from behind. This time, W.F. West (23-4) played consistently, scoring 14 points in each of the first three quarters and holding off the Falcons (21-4), even after they cut the lead to a single point, 51-50, near the end.
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“I was so proud of my seniors’ mental toughness,” White said. “It’s like a storm when you’re playing against (Foss pressure) defense. They have tremendous speed and athleticism we can’t simulate in practice. It is like a 98-mph fast ball, you have to just be tough and stand in there.”
The Bearcats played some defense of their own, leading 14-3 after one period and not allowing a field goal until a Demetrius Crosby drive to the basket early in the second quarter.
“We weren’t who we are during the first 16 minutes tonight,” said Foss coach Mike Cocke. “You play 25 games and you get here and forget what those first 25 games were like. We fouled too much, gave them 16 free throws in the first half.”
By the time the game was over, four W.F. West players had each made six free throws, including Brandon White, who led the Bearcats with 18 points, Bailey Cooper who scored 14 and Jordan Thomas, who just reached double figures with 10. White, who made 4 of 7 three-point attempts and didn’t take a shot inside the arc, also added 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Crosby led Foss with 23 points while Micah Pollard added 11 and Kenzel Massey nine.
Brandon White has always been confident, but appreciates the way the 2A tournament has played out.
“We all wanted to play for the state championship and we worked hard to get here,” he said. “But I don’t think we really believed until we started playing here.”
W.F. West advances to Saturday’s 3 p.m. championship game, where a foe they might not be too excited to see will be waiting. Lynden thumped W.F. West, 73-46, in the regional round back on February 24. But the Whites, father and son, coach and player, think this time may be different.
“We had a rough time, but I like our chances this time,” said Chris White. “We’re playing with house money.”
“I think we’re going to play better than we did the last time,” said Brandon White. “We’re really fired up and I think we’re going to bring out best game.”
Foss will play for the third-place trophy at 1 p.m. against Mark Morris.
F – Crosby 23, Pollard 11, Kelly 4, Barnes 1, Marlier, Santa-Cruz, Carter, Leufroy 2, Massey 9.
WFW – Wollan 6, Thomas 10, B. White 18, C. White 2, Cooper, Yarter, Kelly, Dobyns, Baker, Jones 3, Speck.