Top-ranked Foss High School has to get up and go.
That is not just the Falcons’ playing style — few teams in Class 2A play at their tempo — but it’s their livelihood in the postseason.
Because Foss is ranked 20th in the WIAA’s new Ratings Performance Index (RPI) system, it does not have the luxury of the top eight teams of automatically going to the state playoffs in Yakima.
So the Falcons need to keep winning — and they do. They shoved aside No. 9 Kingston, 92-70, in the semifinals of the 2A West Central District III tournament Wednesday night in their home gymnasium.
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Up next: Fourth-ranked and defending WCD champion North Kitsap in the district title game Saturday at Foss.
Foss (19-5) shot a blistering 61.6 percent from the floor against the Buccaneers, converting turnovers from its full-court press into easy transition buckets in building a 30-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Even though Kingston (16-7) never really went away until the final minutes, especially behind Gabe Gregory’s 24 points, the Falcons were never in danger.
“We are playing pretty close to a (championship level), but we have some things to work on,” said Foss standout Roberto Gittens, who scored 19 points. “We’ve got to get in better shape and stay focused — and keep pushing our momentum.”
Even with all the positives, there was one aspect of the game Wednesday that bothered Foss coach Mike Cocke’: Kingston’s easy scoring. The Buccaneers’ regulars shot 51.1 percent (24 of 47 field goals) in three-plus quarters.
“I don’t like (Kingston’s) shooting percentage, but we just get more possessions (with our full-court pressure),” Cocke’ said. “And with more possessions come more points.”
Micah Pollard led the Falcons with 20 points off the bench.
Oh, yeah, that number again — No. 20.
“The RPI thing, everyone keeps asking me about it,” Cocke’ said. “It is just motivation. We see it as a way to go out and prove everyone wrong.”
BOYS 4A WEST CENTRAL/SOUTHWEST
Enumclaw 66, Auburn 55: The Hornets were able to find their footing in a victory over the Trojans — and clinch a 4A state tournament berth in their first year up from Class 3A.
“Auburn deserves credit because they played hard and we weren’t connected or focused defensively,” said Enumclaw coach Terry Johnson. “We got right in the second half though, we forced them to take the shots that we wanted them to take.”
Those shots were from outside as the Hornets shut down the middle of the court in the third quarter. Pa’treon Lee, the game’s leading scorer with 19 points, was held largely ineffective as the game wore on.
And even though Kaden Anderson scored 18 points and Griffin Webb scored 16, it was Cooper McCullough and Keegan Ulrich that made the momentum-changing shots late in the game.
“We have such an amazing team,” Johnson said. “Our guys are really unselfish, they just want us to be successful. When players make shots out of the blue, it picks up energy.”
Enumclaw will play Kentridge at 7:45 p.m. Friday at Stadium in a last district tune-up game before heading to state.
Auburn’s season ended with the loss.
Kentridge 49, Mount Rainier 44: Markel Banks scored a game-high 20 points as the Chargers wore out the Rams after an initially slow start to clinch its fourth consecutive trip to the 4A state tournament.
“We weren’t shooting really well,” Kentridge coach Dave Jamison said. “We hit a couple of shots at the end of the half that loosened us up.”
The Chargers exploded in the third quarter, outscoring Mount Rainier 20-12 and were able to close out the game by hitting free throws when they needed to.
“AJ Chappell had a giant third quarter,” Jamison said. “We hit free throws down the stretch which we struggled with.”
Chappell scored 15 points.
Kennedy Catholic 60, Emerald Ridge 42: Trevor Hoffman lit up the Jaguars for 17 points as the Lancers clinched a 4A state tournament berth.
Helping out his teammate was Emilio Mancol, scoring 16 points to get the Lancers ahead of Emerald Ridge. The Jaguars couldn’t find a good offensive rhythm though, Caleb Goodspeed was the high scorer with eight points in the season-ending loss.
Bellarmine Prep 39, Camas 35: Joey Bodoia scored 15 points and Christian Moore added 10 for the Lions in a defensive battle as the Lions rallied in the second half to clinch their second consecutive 4A state tournament berth.
“It was a good old-fashioned defensive battle,” said Bellarmine Prep head coach Bernie Salazar. “Obviously we didn’t shoot well tonight but our defense helped us win the game.”
The Lions at one point trailed 23-14. But they used an 18-7 run in the third quarter to take a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of our team for playing really good defense,” Salazar said.
BOYS 3A WEST CENTRAL/SOUTHWEST
Wilson 71, Spanaway Lake 68 (OT): Emmitt Matthews Jr. tossed up a one-handed layup on the opening possession of overtime to break a 61-61 tie.
Wilson (18-5) took the lead and never lost it, and the Rams slipped by Spanaway Lake (16-7) at Olympia High School in a 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict semifinal.
Matthews scored a game-high 28 points for the Rams.
Wilson plays crosstown rival Lincoln at 2 p.m. Saturday at Puyallup in the district title game.
BOYS 1A WEST CENTRAL
Cascade Christian 62, Port Townsend 61: Dylan Cooley let it fly.
His game-winning 3-pointer won a nail biter of a game and punched the Cougars’ ticket to the 1A state tournament and a spot in Saturday’s district title game against Vashon Island.
Trailing 61-59 with 28 seconds remaining, Cooley stepped up.
“And we were lucky enough to hold on to that to win,” Cascade Christian coach Jerry Williams said. “It came right down to the wire.”
Cooley scored 21 points and Grayson Jones scored a career-high 22 points for the Cougars.
“It seemed like every time we needed a critical bucket (Jones) was right there,” Williams said.
“I think the biggest thing for us right now is understanding that playoff basketball is a little bit of a different game than the regular season and you really truly got to be working together as a team. I think we learned that on several occasions tonight. I think hopefully we will learn from that as we move forward.”
GIRLS 4A WEST CENTRAL/ SOUTHWEST
Camas 49, Auburn Riverside 45: In a back-and-forth game decided in the last minute of play the Papermakers edged the Ravens in the district semifinal game.
Camas won every quarter but the second as they were led by sophomore Haley Hanson’s game- high 13 points and Courtney Clemmer added 12 points.
Faith Turner scored 13 points for Auburn Riverside, Mckenzi Williams had 12 points, and Olivia Denton added 11.
Bellarmine Prep 54, Kentridge 43: Shalyse Smith had 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Lions paid the Chargers back for their only loss of the season with a victory in Wednesday’s district semifinals.
“Our defense has been playing great and I think we stepped up and took them out of what they wanted to do,” Bellarmine Prep coach Kevin Meines said. “We took out their size advantage, particularly in the second and fourth quarters.”
Meines said the Lions’ ball movement was key as Madeline Garcia wreaked havoc making back cuts to get underneath the hoop, finishing the night with 14 points. Bellarmine Prep (22-1) lost a nonleague game to Kentridge, 60-59, on Dec. 7 but now head to the 4A district title game to face Camas at 4 p.m. Saturday at Puyallup.
“The girls are doing a great job staying together with communication and playing great team basketball,” Meines said.
Morgan Gary led the Chargers with 14 points.
Staff writers Chase Hutchinson and Jordan Whitford contributed to this report