Bracket Busters: W.F. West Becomes a Part of Woodland’s Cinderalla Run in 48-35
By Eric Trent
RIDGEFIELD — An impressive fourth-quarter comeback bid fell short, like many of W.F. West’s shots on the night, as the Bearcats took a 48-45 District 4 semifinal loss to Cinderella-team Woodland on Tuesday.
Instead of earning an automatic bid to the state round of regionals, the Bearcats must now survive two-straight loser-out contests, starting with R.A. Long at 7: 45 p.m., Thursday, at Tumwater High School.
“These are moments you don’t know when you’re going to see again,” W.F. West coach Chris White said. “You hope you see it all the time. Before two years ago it had been a long time. When you get this opportunity to make it to the title game at districts you want to seize the moment. We just didn’t seize the moment.”
The Bearcats (16-6) were in the same situation two years ago during their run to the 2A state title game that they lost to Lynden. They fell in the district semifinals, picked up consecutive wins to claim a state berth, then made it all the way to the state championship match.
Woodland (12-22) the fifth seed heading into districts, had to play two-straight play-in matches to face the Greater St. Helens League champion in the opening round. The Beavers pulled off a 51-48 upset to reach the semifinals against W.F. West and are now playing the 2A Evergreen’s third-seed, Tumwater, for the district title on Friday.
“Hats off to them,” White said. “Hell of a story they’re writing. It’s pretty impressive.
On Tuesday, the Bearcats grabbed the early momentum, taking a 5-0 lead and holding it at 8-4 early in the first. Then Woodland stole it for the next two and a half quarters, taking the lead for good with 3:17 left in the first. It was part of a 15-5 run for the Beavers to help them take a 19-13 lead after one frame.
W.F. West struggled to get open looks against Woodland’s sweeping matchup zone.
“We knew it was coming and we knew what we needed to, but we sure didn’t do it well,” White said. “We didn’t execute well.”
The Beavers kept a comfortable lead most of the match, leading by as many as 12 with 2:29 left in the third. The Bearcats cut the lead to eight on a Tyler Speck 3-pointer and a Carter McCoy free throw.
Speck and Cade Haller each drilled 3-pointers in the fourth, part of a 12-7 run that put the Bearcats trailing by three with 16 seconds left. Point guard Kayden Kelly’s 3-point shot from the top of the key rimmed in and out while the Beavers scooped up the board for the win.
“Pretty decent comeback,” White said. “Just a lot of missed shots. They punched us in the mouth and it looked like we didn’t have the resiliency. We weren’t very mentally tough to overcome.”
Tyler Speck led the offensive charge for the Bearcats with a game-high 17 points, while Cade Haller added 12 and Carter McCoy 11.
Just five Bearcats got on the scoreboard and the team’s 45 points was their third-lowest point total of the season, and lowest since scoring 40 in a defeat to Black Hills on Jan. 7.
“We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves,” White said. “We’re backed into a corner now. Now we find out what we’re really made of. It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to get the task tonight. We’re still alive. We’re going to keep fighting and try to claw our way back.”