From regular season league champions to grabbing the district’s fifth and final seed to a dramatic regional playoff game, the path the Toledo High School boys basketball team took this year to get to the Class 2B state tournament was anything but routine.
“Our goal all season has been to get to Spokane. However we get there, it doesn’t matter as long as we get there. Obviously, one way is easier and one way’s tougher, but we’re going,” said Toledo Head Coach Grady Fallon. “We’re going to go over there and give it a shot. We have enough tools to hang with good teams. I’m excited to see what happens.”
The Indians, champions of the 2B Central League and the state’s third-ranked team in the WIAA’s RPI ratings, dropped a heart-breaking 45-42 regional round game to Liberty of Spangle at W.F. West High School on February 24 to be bumped into a loser out contest at the Class 2B state tournament on February 28 at the Spokane Arena.
Toledo (21-5) will play Colfax (19-6) in the opening round. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.
A victory over the Bulldogs will send the Indians into the eight-team, double-elimination tournament where they would face league rival Adna on March 1 at 3:45 p.m. The Pirates defeated Morton-White Pass, 51-50, at regionals to secure its place among the field of eight,
Toledo missed out on its chance to join Adna in the far-less stressful second round of the state tournament after Liberty hit a pair of free throws with 1.3 seconds remaining to offset some late-game heroics by Toledo senior Reece Wallace.
Wallace, who scored a team-high 14 points, got four of his final total on a four-point play with 9 seconds to go. With the Indians trailing, 41-38, Reece was fouled after burying a corner 3-pointer which tied the contest. A successful free throw gave his team a slim one-point advantage.
The lead would not hold, however, as the Landers went 4 for 4 from the charity stripe the rest of the game. Liberty now sits comfortably waiting to play the winner of Friday Harbor and Morton-White Pass, which will be played at 7:15 p.m.
While the Indians head to a loser-out contest.
“We struggled in the third. We made too many turnovers in the first half, but (Liberty) is a good team so credit to them,” Fallon said. “We didn’t quit. Our guys came back and had a chance, but (Liberty) made their free throws. A couple plays here and there and it’s a different story.”
Junior Andreas Malunat, who hit a pair of big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to put Toldeo within striking distance, added 9 points for the Indians in the loss, while Brian Wood and Junior Arroyo each scored 6 points for the Indians.
“It doesn’t faze them,” Fallon said about his team needing to rebound from a tough loss. “All season, even in our wins, they’ll look at what we did wrong during a game and come out to practice and work on fixing those mistakes. They’ll be ready to play in Spokane.”
The Indians will face a Colfax squad which finished third in the 2B Northeast League – undefeated and second-seeded Saint George’s won the Northeast League this year with Toledo’s regional opponent, Liberty, finishing second.
The Bulldogs hammered No. 14 Crosspoint, 78-33, in the regional round to advance to the state tournament. Carson Cloaninger scored a game-high 21 points for Colfax, which has won three straight and six out of its last seven games. The Bulldogs are making their first state appearance since 2013. They finished second that season, a year after defeating Northwest Christian (Colbert) for the 2012 championship.
While Colfax is making a return trip to state following a five-year hiatus, Toledo will be playing in its second consecutive state tournament. The Indians, who captured the 1A title in 2013, fell a game short of placing last year, dropping a loser-out game in the consolation bracket to Napavine.
Adna, Morton-White Pass Boys Heading to Spokane
Trevor Thornburg scored 17 points and Lyle Metzenberg added 10 as the Pirates posted a 51-50 win over the Timberwolves to punch their ticket to the double-elimination portion of the state tournament.
Adna (22-2) will be appearing in its second consecutive state tournament. The Pirates last placed in 2012 when they finished fifth.
Matt Poquette scored a game-high 24 points for MWP (20-6) against Adna. The Timberwolves will face Northwest League 1A/2B champion Friday Harbor (15-8) in a loser-out game at state. The Wolverines have won 10 straight games, including a 51-32 drubbing of Oroville in the regional round.