The Woodinville High School boys basketball team hadn’t faced a situation quite like the one it did Thursday.
For one, it had never played in a state tournament game before.
Then standout 6-foot-6 forward Tony Miller picked up two fouls early in the first quarter and sat for the rest of the first half. He was the team’s leader in just about every facet of the game and led the 4A KingCo league in points (23.7) and rebounds (11.4) per game.
But still, the Falcons survived.
Lance Coomer scored a game-high 17 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer in the fourth quarter and two free throws with 6.2 seconds left to seal it, as Woodinville beat third-ranked Kentwood, 58-57, to advance to the 4A state semifinals at the Tacoma Dome.
“We’ve been fortunate this year where we haven’t had to play without (Miller),” Woodinville coach Mark Folsom said. “It was probably the best thing that could have happened to us.
“We’ve talked about that opportunity and that situation all year long. … Our chemistry is unbelievable.”
Miller still finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Woodinville will face Davis in the semifinals at 3:45 p.m. Friday. Kentwood falls to the consolation bracket and will face Richland at 12:15 p.m.
“We didn’t execute very well today,” said Kentwood coach Blake Solomon.
Malik Sanchez had a sensational blocked shot in the fourth quarter, and Kentwood got the ball, trailing 46-45 with about five minutes remaining in the game.
But Sanchez was called for a technical foul. He said he was just in the moment after the block and said something he shouldn’t have.
“I’m emotional basketball player,” Sanchez said. “I just didn’t think I would get a technical for it.”
Miller hit two free throws, and Woodinville got the ball back. Miller got to the line again and hit two more, pushing the Falcons lead to 50-45.
Miller went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line in the last five minutes.
Sanchez was later fouled on a 3-pointer in the left corner. He made the first free throw, but missed the next two. That kept it at 56-52 – a two-possession game instead of one.
Sanchez got a putback the next possession to cut it to 56-54. But Coomar went to the line with 6.2 seconds left and calmly hit a pair of free throws.
“I remember thinking that I should be nervous right now,” Coomar said. “But I wasn’t nervous at all. I just felt in the moment. I felt like ‘This is practice, I got to knock them down.’ ”
Darious LuBom, who scored 16 points for Kentwood, hit a 3-pointer the next possession but it was at the buzzer, and Woodinville held on for the 58-57 win.
“It’s great for these kids,” Folsom said. “We’ve been through an atrocious two years. They have continued to believe not only in what we are teaching, but really in each other.”
Kentwood scored six points in the first quarter before Preston White got the Conks going in the second, bringing Kentwood back from a 22-9 deficit and giving it a 23-22 lead. He scored 13 points in the first half and Kentwood led 25-24 at halftime.
“Preston saved us in the first half,” Solomon said. “Without him, it probably would have been insurmountable at halftime.”
Coomar hit a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to pull Woodinville to within 39-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
Coomar hit another 3, this one from the right corner, to put the Falcons up for good, with about six minutes left in the fourth. His two free throws ensured that.
“Obviously, this is uncharted territory for us,” Coomar said. “But we feel a lot better about this tournament now.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677