Two goals down for the Foss High School basketball team. Two nets cut down.
One more each remains.
Donald Scott scored 16 points and Roberto Gittens had 15 points as the top-ranked Falcons rallied from a first-half deficit to cruise past No. 4 North Kitsap, 63-49, on Saturday for the 2A West Central District championship on their home court.
“Coach (Mike) Cocke’ came to me and said, ‘If you lose, they cut down your nets in your gym,’” Gittens said. “He said, ‘Don’t let us lose.’”
And now Foss can focus its attention on the 2A state basketball tournament, where it will have to win a regional round game next week (because it is ranked No. 20 in the WIAA’s 2A RPI rankings) before it can book its tickets to the Yakima SunDome.
Foss (19-5) has lost to 3A schools Timberline and Lincoln and its three other losses came in the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in California against a school from Sacramento, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
It hasn’t lost to a 2A team this year.
But that doesn’t mean it has been easy.
North Kitsap, the reigning district champion, took a 31-27 lead at halftime when Ryan Hecker hit a corner 3-pointer. Vikings point guard Zac Olmsted had been giving Foss fits all half.
“We just came out slow,” Scott said. “We came out rusty, thinking we were going to win it easy.
“We came into halftime and Coach got on us, saying we got to push it.”
Did they ever.
Foss outscored North Kitsap 19-7 in the third quarter, sharing the ball much better than in the first half to get easy looks.
“We settled for a lot of jump shots in the first half and that’s not our game,” Cocke’ said. “We are about getting to the basket. That’s what we do. We really talked about getting the ball inside in the second half.”
And Gittens did things Gittens has done all season – converting high-flying dunks and finishing strong through contact.
He cut backdoor and caught a lob from Tre Tyson for an alley-oop dunk to give Foss a 41-36 lead in the third quarter. Later, he snagged a loose ball, charged hard at a North Kitsap defender as if he was going to dunk it, but got fouled and still powered up a layup.
Gittens flexed his arms, let out a yell and stared at a fan in the stands as he pointed to his teeth. His ensuing free throw gave Foss a 51-40 lead with 4:45 to play.
“He’s just a really emotional kid,” Cocke’ said. “He wanted this so bad today for his teammates. And to win a district title in your senior year on your home floor – yeah, I’m sure that’s pretty emotional.”
Foss is the assumed state favorite to walk into Yakima and represent Tacoma by cutting down the nets over there for its first state title since 2000.
“We’re focused,” Gittens said. “We’ve set goals, we got two done and we got one more to go. We got one more thing to do. We’re coming for it.”
Though Cocke’ said it will be far more difficult than some seem to assume with Foss having moved down from being a perennial 3A contender to 2A state favorite.
“In 3A we were good, but we were necessarily the hunted,” Cocke’ said. “Every night now we get everybody’s best punch. You saw it tonight – we got down by a little bit and we had to come back.
“We are fully expecting that if we get to Yakima, as well. I’m excited for Tacoma. I’m excited for our guys just to have this opportunity. We just want to keep it rolling in the right direction.”
4A WEST CENTRAL/SOUTHWEST
Kentwood 77, Federal Way 59: Conquerors coach Blake Solomon wanted his players to send a message – to completely dampen the Eagles spirits with their second win over the two-time defending 4A state champions in two weeks – with this one for the 4A district title.
No. 3 Kentwood rolled from the outset against No. 4 Federal Way, jumping to a 52-25 lead at halftime and cruising from there as Rayvaughn Bolton scored game-high 20 points and Koby Huerta added 15.
The Conquerors ended Federal Way’s 4A record 63-game win streak with its 4A NPSL title win on Feb. 4 and now this after losing to the Eagles in the 4A state title game last year.
And they’ll play each other again.
With the WIAA’s new state tournament format, the top eight RPI-ranked teams play in the regional round with a chance to get a bye into the state quarterfinals, while the loser plays a first-round game against one of the No. 9-16 teams.
The top three RPI-ranked teams – Union, Gonzaga Prep and Davis – all qualified for state, so No. 4-ranked Federal Way will play No. 5-ranked Kentwood either Friday or Saturday next week.
Marcus Stephens and Rashon Slaughter each scored 16 points for Federal Way.
3A WEST CENTRAL/SOUTHWEST
Lincoln 65, Wilson 53: Make that 24-0.
The Abes matched the 1976 team to win each of its first 24 games in a season as they pulled away from Wilson in the fourth quarter in their third win over the Rams this season.
Trevante Anderson scored a game-high 16 points, Emmett Linton scored 14 and Willie Thomas had 12 as the Abes won the 3A district title with the win, outscoring Wilson 15-8 in the fourth quarter.
The game was meaningless in terms of postseason implications as both has already clinched state tournament berths. Except Lincoln, which is ranked No. 5 in the WIAA’s 3A RPI rankings, is guaranteed a spot in the Tacoma Dome, while Wilson (ranked No. 17) will have to win a regional round game next week against an opponent to be determined.
Lincoln will play Capital (the No. 4-ranked RPI team) next week with the winner earning a bye into the state quarterfinals and the loser heading to the first round. Capital earned a state berth with its winner-to-state, loser-out victory over North Thurston on Saturday.
1A WEST CENTRAL
Cascade Christian 51, Vashon 41: Tyler Fox scored a game-high 18 points to lift the Cougars to the district title over the Pirates in the long-standing rivalry.
“Our team was very, very excited and very happy,” said Cascade Christian assistant coach Garth Greiner. “Vashon had beaten us twice during the regular season so it made it really sweet to win the district championship over a team that had gotten the best of us twice.”
Grayson Jones added 11 points.
“We played our best team basketball of the year,” Greiner said. “We were moving the ball pretty well offensively.”
Life Christian 67, Toledo 58: The Eagles were able to hang on to a win after a brief hiccup in the third quarter made the game a close one.
“We had a little third quarter lapse, but our kids responded,” said Life Christian head coach Mark Lovelady. “A lot of our seniors stepped up when we need it.”
One of those seniors was Luke Lovelady who scored 15 points in the game along with fellow senior Anthony Kunitsa who scored 14. Also scoring 15 was sophomore Noah Robinson.
The Eagles had come out strong in that first quarter, outscoring Toledo 18-14. However, it was in the third quarter that Toledo outscored them 23-13 which the Eagles were still able to bounce back from to win the game and take the district title.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677