By Marty Zier
The Viking boys basketball team lost to Chief Leschi 65-60 in the last regional game of the state tournament on Feb. 25, in Puyallup.
The WIAA NW 1A/2B Conference Champion Vikings matched up well against the smaller Warriors but found there was more to Chief Leschi than size according to Head Coach Corey Wiscomb.
“Chief Leschi wasn’t the biggest team we played this year, but they were quicker and more aggressive than anyone we had faced. We adjusted to the tempo of the game slowly and trailed by seven at the end of the first quarter and after a rally, only three at the half. In the third, we seemed to find our stride and took over the lead and extended to as much as five points. I really thought that at that moment we were about to explode and just take over, but the Warriors really dug in. We lead by one at the start of the fourth and it was a see-saw battle back and forth for much of the final period,” said Wiscomb. “As the game came to the final minute we scored on a what appeared to be a beautiful baseline move by Amour, but it was taken away by the referees for a traveling violation that very much displeased the crowd. Seconds later we had the ball in a three-point deficit situation and I was screaming in attempts to call time out, but neither officials nor players could hear me over the noise. A shot went up, we missed, and Chief Leschi took possession. A quick outlet scored one final basket putting the game just out of reach for us as time expired. I give Chief Leschi credit, they played with tremendous heart”
Although scoring was evenly spread amongst his core players, which was ideal for Wiscomb, he felt the lack of 3-point daggers common to the sharp shooting Vikings may have had an impact.
“We only hit three three-point baskets, which is low for us. Put in a couple more of those shots, different result. Stats like that can drive a coach nuts,” said Wiscomb. “Really, though, the only one that matters is that the team left it all on the floor, played with everything they’ve got, and we did do that. There was absolutely no lack of effort. Vanya Bullock and Aidan Kruse each contributed 16 points, while Cyrus Amour and Miles Harlow scored 14 points apiece.”
Reflecting not just on the season, but his years with these players, Wiscomb puts his thoughts on the final moments of a spectacular journey.
“We made the sweet 16 in the state tournament, but we all wanted to go further in our season, to the championship game, so our finale felt terribly disappointing. These young men played with a great love. I know our community saw that in them, as well as the fantastic basketball they played and I am so thankful for all the support that poured out in so many directions this season. I feel like I saw a town come together in a beautiful way. The late night parade as we returned home after our loss really cemented that feeling for us and was a heartfelt reminder to focus our heavy hearts on the amazing things we achieved this year,” said Wiscomb. “Still, it was hard. As we arrived for the last time back at school to unload one player said, ‘So when we get out of the van, the season is over.’ Another replied, ‘No one move.’ We all just sat there, no one even flinching because no one wanted it to be over. Sports is just about a moment, and you do the very best you can in that blink of an eye. I’m beyond proud of these guys, especially the seniors. I will miss them much; their moments will be remembered for a long time to come.”
Photos by Adia Dolan