Bearcats Can’t Keep Up With Cardinals in Season-Closing Loss in Regionals


TACOMA — Two W.F. West boys basketball players had double-doubles, and Dirk Plakinger had a game-high 32 points, but it wasn’t enough in a regional round, loser-out, 90-69, loss to Franklin Pierce Saturday night at Mount Tahoma High School. 

The senior Plakinger almost single-handedly kept the Bearcats in the game through the first three quarters, scoring 32 points, all without making a 3-pointer, to go along with 11 rebounds. Junior big man Soren Dalan also notched a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. 

But despite the gaudy numbers, a huge run from the Cardinals in the fourth quarter helped the No. 10 seed separate from the Bearcats late. 

“They get going right away,” W.F. West coach Chris White said. “And it’s nothing fancy, they just come downhill at you and we got tangled up. (John John Barbee) has great gamesmanship and he can draw a lot of fouls, they were pretty lopsided tonight.”

The Cardinal guard Barbee finished with a team-high 30 points.

Trailing 58-45 late in the third, W.F. West went on a 11-0 run that included a huge Plakinger poster dunk that brought the crowd and Bearcat bench to its feet, and made it just a two-point game at the time in the third. 

After that, though, it was all Cards. The Bearcats were outscored 32-13 to close out the game. 

“I tip my hat to those guys,” White said. “I thought we had a good plan but they turned us over more than we liked. I felt like we calmed down, but they just got hot and went downhill and we were a bit late to the party, it happened over and over again.”

The loss means the Bearcats season is over, after earning a regional bid with two wins at the district tournament last week, and finishing as 2A Evergreen Conference runners-up in league. 

“No one thought we’d get this far,” White said. “They really overachieved and I love them so much.”

Seven Bearcats played their final game in a W.F. West basketball jersey: Evan Tornow, Dirk Plakinger, Ryan Witham, Seth Hoff, Gideon Priest, Austin Snyder, and Charlie Mallonee. 

Led by Plakinger, who finished as W.F. West’s leading scorer, had a final night to remember with two highlight dunks against Franklin Pierce, and a barrage of midrange and layup moves that led to 32 big points, almost half of the Bearcats scoring. 

“What a career he had for us,” White said. “He’s a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to coach and he’s so smooth. He was really feeling it and we were trying to feed him, he makes me so proud. He’s grown so much from the start of his career to now, he’s so dependable. I can’t wait to watch him at the next level.”

White also commended his other seniors at length, praising Tornow for his growth at the lead guard spot, Mallonee’s defensive tenacity, Snyder and Witham’s grit off the bench, Priest’s defensive prowess in his first varsity basketball season in Chehalis, and Hoff for his huge strides as the Bearcats’ third scorer. 

He said W.F. West would not have made it this far without any of them and their work this season.