It was a scrappy affair in the opening round of the 2015 Curtis Winter Classic as the 3A Greater St. Helen’s League Prairie Falcons overcame 1A Nisqually League Cascade Christian Thursday afternoon.
After Cascade Christian took a third quarter lead, thanks to the momentum changing three pointer from Falcon guard Seth Hall, Prairie (4-1) and their stingy defense was able to pull off a 42-37 win in the afternoon game inside Curtis High.
The win allows Prairie to advance to face Richland, which beat South Kitsap, in the semifinals at the Winter Classic tomorrow at Curtis High. Cascade Christian will face South Kitsap in the consolation round.
Cascade Christian (2-3) took the lead after stretching the floor to create shots for both Tyler Fox (11 points) and Sam Hoffman (6 points). Fox and Hoffman combined for 14 points in the third to give the Cougars their first lead, 34-30.
But then Prairie’s defense came to life.
"Credit to them (as) they did a great job stretching us out in our defense," Prairie coach Kyle Brooks said. "We had to try to speed the game up a little bit … enough to get the lead, and we made enough free-throws to kind of be able to get a win."
After the Falcons found Greg Bernash (13 points) down low on back-to-back trips to cut Cascade Christian’s lead to 36-33, a loose ball found its way towards Hall standing alone at the top the key. One second later, the game was tied as the Falcon’s guard swung the momentum squarely in Prairies favor.
Bernash gave the Falcons a 38-36 lead as Prairie closed out the game going 6-for-8 from the free-throw line to pick up the win.
"We’re still trying to learn how to finish games against really good teams," Cascade Christian coach Jerry Williams said. "I thought we had some good looks at the basket, but we didn’t finish shots … I just thought we didn’t take advantage of some of the opportunities we probably should have."
Prairie’s defense shut down Cascade Christian’s offense to outscore the Cougars 12-3 in the fourth.
Richland 79, South Kitsap 52: Senior guard Steven Beo and the Bombers used a mammoth first half lead to blow by the Wolves in the first-round of the Curtis Winter Classic.
"Easy transition buckets (and) making the other team play transition (defense) is the best way to score," Beo said.
Richland (3-1) proved to be too much for South Kitsap (2-3) from the start. As Beo (21 points) knocked down shots from the outside, the 7-foot sophomore Riley Sorn (4 points) dominated in the paint, putting back shots on the offensive end and taking them away on the defensive side.
"My real goal is to try and go out there on defense and to get some good blocks. Just trying to do good for the team," Sorn said. "I love that when you get the board in really moving the transition."
"He’s really stepped up this year," Beo added about Sorn. "He really makes it easy for us in starting our transition off our defense."
Sorn finished with a game-high’s 9 rebounds and 7 blocks in Richland’s win.
Curtis 85, Abbotsford (British Columbia) 61: The Vikings proved dominant as they handily defeated Abbotsford at the Curtis Winter Classic.
Aushanti Potts-Woods led the Vikings with 33 points, while Nathan Ward contributed 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Curtis advances to the semifials to play Post Falls of Idaho, which won the 5A Idaho state championship last year. They play at 7 p.m. Friday at Curtis High School after Richland plays Prairie in the other semifinal.