Earlier this season David Long pushed his team to do something a Columbia River boys basketball squad had not done before in his 20 years as the head coach.
The Chieftains made it happen Friday night, with their second consecutive Class 3A district championship.
Isaiah Smith had 31 points and 14 rebounds, Rian Bassett scored 15 and did a little bit of everything on the court, and the Chieftains rolled to a 63-51 victory over cold-shooting Mountain View.
Columbia River will host a second-round game in the bi-district tournament on Friday. Mountain View must play in a loser-out, first-round game Wednesday vs. Mount Tahoma at Clover Park High School in Lakewood.
“This is something that is extra special for this team,” Smith said. “Our coach challenged us to win a district title two years in a row. It was a good goal for our team, and we accomplished it.”
The first back-to-back district crown in the Long era came via a start-to-finish victory.
Bassett made his first three shots of the game, one off of a steal/fast break and another a 3-pointer, and then he assisted on Smith’s first basket of the game, which turned into a three-point play. Columbia River would never trail.
“Rian’s start on defense we very key for us,” Smith said. “It gave us some momentum.”
It also got River’s crowd into a frenzy.
“We have the best student section in Southwest Washington,” Smith said.
“We just came out with a lot of energy,” said Bassett, who had six steals and four assists in his all-around performance. “We were clicking on all cylinders. We slowed down a bit, but then our defense picked it up.”
Long said Bassett is the kind of guy who can change a game when it’s his night.
“He’s extremely, extremely gifted. Not just as a basketball player, but as an athlete,” Long said. “It is a gift. You watch him play, he can do a lot of things.”
Columbia River had an answer, or a defender, for everything Mountain View tried to do on offense. The Thunder were 3 of 13 in the first quarter. Things got worse for them when they connected on 2 of 14 shots in the second quarter.
The Thunder, though, were never fully out of the contest until the final minute. After missing their first 20 3-point shots, Luke DuChesne got one to go down to make it 55-48 with 1:57 remaining.
That’s as close as it got, though. Devin Bolds would make six free throws down the stretch to close out the victory.
Smith finished 12 of 17 from the floor and 7 of 10 from the line, to go with all his rebounds.
“He’s just a warhorse,” Long said. “Typical Isaiah. He shows up for big games, and he shows up for every game. He takes what he gets. He doesn’t force things.”
Taylor Drey led Mountain View with 15 points. DuChesne added 13. Shane McCauley had nine points and 13 rebounds.
The Thunder pushed their percentage to 29 percent by the end of the game, but they could not overcome from the shooting woes of the first half.
That gave Columbia River a special repeat at the district tournament.
COLUMBIA RIVER 63, MOUNTAIN VIEW 51
MOUNTAIN VIEW — Shane McCauley 9, Luke DuChesne 13, Taylor Drey 15, Akash Sanghera 7, Alex Torson 3, Nolan Biggs 0, Patrick Woodson 4. Totals 17-58 (1-25) 16-26 51.
COLUMBIA RIVER — Devin Bolds 8, Eli Evenson 0, Bryan Wyche 0, Nathan Hawthorne 0, Lance Voorhees 0, Torey Jones 9, Rian Bassett 15, Chandler Holt 0, Clark Bryant 0, Justin Gwinn 0, Dallin Scheidel 0, Isaiah Smith 31. Totals 22-49 (1-16) 18-24 63.
Mtn. View 8 10 16 17–51
Col. River 16 14 16 17–63