SPOKANE — Yakama Tribal reached the Class 1B boys basketball title game at the Spokane Arena this weekend thanks to fast starts and tenacious defense.
But Saturday night against top-seeded Odessa, the second-seeded Eagles fell behind early, got into foul trouble and didn’t dictate the game’s pace.
That was a bad combination, and for the second straight season, Yakama Tribal lost in the championship game, this time 62-36 to the unbeaten Odessa Tigers.
“We didn’t take this championship game for granted. For whatever reason, we had trouble shooting. Not just tonight, (but) pretty much all weekend,” said Yakama Tribal coach Greg Strom. “We got by with great defense, and that just wasn’t enough tonight.”
Odessa won its first boys’ basketball championship, denying Yakama Tribal — which lost 54-45 to Sunnyside Christian in last year’s title game — the same distinction. The Tigers (27-0) did so largely because of senior and state career-scoring leader Ryan Moffet, who scored 28 points, five more than he did in his previous two games combined. As a team the Tigers shot 48.1%.
Senior Bryce Strom picked up three fouls in the first 70 seconds of the game, and the Eagles missed him, falling behind 27-18 in the first half.
“We just didn’t get a very good start, and Bryce getting three quick fouls really changed up what we do,” Greg Strom said. “So far we’ve been able to overcome it, but we couldn’t do it today.”
Their hopes of a comeback were quickly squashed when Odessa opened the third quarter on a 14-0 run to put the game out of reach.
The Eagles struggled particularly in 3-point shooting all tournament. In three games, they shot 11 of 49 (22.4%) from long distance. Their point totals of 45, 51 and 36 were the three lowest of the season for a team that scored more than 80 points nine times and cleared 100 twice.
In three games, seniors Bryan Strom and Deshawn John combined for just 39 points. Bryce Strom scored 26 points this weekend, including only six on Saturday.
Odessa also outrebounded Yakama Tribal, 37-22, and had eight steals, controlling the game’s pace. The Eagles made just 5 of 24 field-goal attempts after halftime.
“We had trouble knocking shots down, and they were able to rebound and get out and go,” Strom said. “If we could score we could pressure, and we had trouble putting the ball in the basket.”
Sophomore Justice Hart led the Eagles with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting. He also grabbed a team-best seven rebounds and had two blocks. He had at least 11 points in each of his three games at state.
Yakama Tribal, which had its 21-game winning streak snapped, finished 24-3 overall.
“It’s been a fun year. It’s been a fun ride with those kids,” Strom said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t send (the seniors) out the right way, but in their careers they’ve played at state every year, and that’s hard to do.”
ODESSA — Ryan Moffet 28, Weber 4, Nelson 7, King 4, Hunt 7, Deife 0, Scrupps 0, Clark 0, Johnston 0, Tim DeWulf 10, Carstensen 2. Totals 25-52 6-6 62.
YAKAMA TRIBAL — Bry. Strom 6, Jones 3, Bry. Strom 5, John 6, Justice Hart 13, Wahsise 3, Bennett 0, Speedis 0, Woodward 0, Pascua 0. Totals 13-43 4-10 36.
Odessa 16 11 22 13 — 62
Yakama Tribal 9 9 6 12 — 36
Highlights: Hart (YT) 2 3p, 7 rebs; Bryan Strom (YT) 7 assts; Mylo Jones (YT) 3 assts; Camden Weber (O) 9 rebs, 5 assts; Marcus King (O) 9 rebs; Moffet (O) 10-16 FG, 3 stls.