Friday, February 22, 2013
WALLA WALLA — Pomeroy faces off with Odessa-Harrington Saturday at 4 p.m. in the regional round of the boys basketball Class 1B state playoffs.
The game, along with Wellpinit vs. LaCrosse-Washtucna-Kahlotus, will be played at Wa-Hi.
The Titans enter the matchup with a 16-7 record overall and a 7-3 mark in Northeast 1B league play.
Odessa-Harrington finished the season second in the Northeast 1B South Division but went 3-0 in the district playoffs to earn its league’s top seed to state.
In the process, the Titans knocked off Cusick, ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll, 60-52.
Pomeroy coach Brian Koller said he feels the Pirates match up well with the smaller, guard-focused Titans.
“They don’t have a lot of height, but they’re pretty quick,” Koller said. “I think we’ll match up with them OK. Their speed and their quickness is a concern, though.”
Senior guard Justin Hunt (5-foot-10) leads the Titans in scoring, averaging 13.5 points per game over the latter half of the season. Three other guards, all seniors, average near 10 points a game, with Stetson Sanford (5-8) scoring 10.3 ppg, Cade Weber (5-9) 9.5 and Markus Smith (5-9) 8.8.
Jacob DeWulf, a 6-3 junior, leads the Titans in the post with 5.4 ppg.
The Pirates should have a height advantage across the board, with 6-6 Riley Bott and 5-11 Tanner Feider leading an offense that has been hot-and-cold, but has usually done enough to pick up a win.
In the District 9 tournament opener, the Pirates scored just 35 points against Touchet, but they held the Indians to just 27. Two days later against second-seeded Colton, the Pirates put up 72.
“We have won at Colton — just two weeks ago — but didn’t expect to beat them this bad,” Koller said after that game, a 72-52 rout. “The guys are playing really well right now and hopefully we can keep it going. Defensively, we need to keep getting it done.”
Feider scored 30 against Colton and Bott put up 26 during the district championship, a 60-51 loss to LaCrosse-Washtucna-Kahlotus.
The Pirates got it done defensively in the consolation title, holding Rosalia to 30 points for a 42-30 victory that saw both teams struggle to score.
Bott, who Koller called more of a combo guard than a pure post, has developed into a complete player in the latter half of the season.
“Later in the season he’s put up some pretty big numbers in games,” Koller said of the junior. “He’s shooting the ball better and attacking the basket better. He can attack off the dribble now, and plus he’s always a 3-point threat, too.
“Probably the biggest thing with him is trying to get some consistency with him,” Koller said. “One game he’ll score 20-something and the next game he’ll barely score 10.”
Koller commended Feider, the team’s only senior, for more than just scoring.
“He’s played pretty solid the last few games,” Koller said of Feider. “Defensively and rebounding-wise, he’s really stepped up the last few games.”
The Pirates are healthy as well, with only sophomore guard Kade Snyder questionable for the 4 p.m. tip. Snyder started for Pomeroy before being sidelined with a stomach bug late in the season and Koller is hopeful he will be able to make a return.
“He’s a defensive, rebounding-type kid,” Koller said. “Just having that extra body to improve our depth will be tremendous.”
The winner of Saturday’s game advances to the eight-team Hardwood Classic at the Spokane Arena beginning Thursday. Seeding in the Classic will be determined by a draw Sunday following the regional round.
This is the first trip to the state playoffs for Pomeroy since 2001, back when the tournament consisted of a 16-team double elimination bracket in Spokane.
Those Pirates won a game before exiting the tournament without placing.
Wa-Hi will also be hosting a pair of regionals for the girls 1B playoffs. Tekoa-Oakesdale plays Sunnyside Christian Friday at 6 p.m. and Columbia (Hunters) takes on Colton at 8 p.m.