LONGVIEW — Big games often have the smallest margin for error.
The Woodland boys basketball team learned that on Friday in the regional round of the Class 1A state playoffs.
A lost rebound here, a missed free throw there. It all added up to end Woodland's season in a 49-44 loss to Cascade Christian.
While the Puyallup school advances to the quarterfinals in Yakima, the Beavers felt they let Friday's game at Mark Morris High School get away.
Though Woodland hung within three points for much of the second half, the Beavers never took the lead.
Instead, the scrappy Cougars stayed ahead by tracking down loose balls and converting offensive rebounds into points.
"Every time (we) got it back, they seemed to score," Woodland coach Jason Buffum said. "You give a team four or five extra possessions … it was a one-possession game."
In the bonus for the whole fourth quarter, Woodland had chances at the free throw line to change the outcome. But the Beavers made only 4 of 9 foul shots in the fourth quarter and finished the game 9 for 20.
"Not a lot of teams win big games shooting 9 for 20," Buffum said. "We didn't fight and claw and scratch to get that extra rebound and limit their possessions."
Cascade Christian post Colton Rayburn led all scorers with 15 points. He also helped clog the lane, making sure every Woodland drive to the hoop was contested.
The Beavers' outside shooters were cold, going 3 for 11 from 3-point range.
"They're a big team," Woodland center Jake Rosenbalm said. "We had some unfortunate matchups where they had bigger guys on our smaller guys."
Neither team led by more than four points until Cascade Christian jumped ahead 39-34 late in the third quarter.
Woodland pulled within 41-40 with 4:27 to play. Though the Beavers scored just four points the rest of the game, they had a chance to tie within the final minute. Tanner Huddleston's 3-pointer, however, was off the mark.
The Cougars ran down the shot clock before Jordan Tveter's basket with 24 seconds left extended the lead to 47-42.
Woodland scored quickly to pull within 47-44, but Tveter put the game away with a breakaway layup with 14 seconds left.
Despite Friday's loss, Woodland can take solace in the team's trajectory. Four seniors saw the team go 0-20 during their freshman season.
A team that had been an afterthought received increasingly strong fan support as this season went on.
"This has come a long way from the first game of the year," Buffum said. "There were probably 40 people in the gymnasium. To see the community and school support that we received, I'm hoping this continues."
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 49, WOODLAND 44
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (12-11) — Sam Hoffmann 9, Jesse Howells 5, Ryley Ramos 0, Colton Rayburn 15, Jordan Tveter 10, Danny Lidyard 8, Kyle Stevenson 0, Andrew Tigges 2; Totals 19 (6) 5-7 49.
WOODLAND (16-7) — Troy Flanagan 7, Tanner Huddleston 0, Logan Piper 4, Jake Rosenbalm 11, Ryan Sturdivan 3, Anthony Dizon 8, Kyle Hendrix 11. Totals 16 (3) 9-20 44.
Cascade Ch. 12 16 11 10—49
Woodland 12 15 9 8—44