BELLEVUE — Two minutes into the second half, the Battle Ground Tigers were toe to toe with the Garfield Bulldogs in a Class 4A boys basketball regional game.
Over the next few minutes, Garfield played like the top-ranked team in Washington, surging into a lead that Battle Ground couldn't dig out from in a 69-51 win that sends the Bulldogs from Seattle to the Tacoma Dome for the state quarterfinals.
Putting up a good fight against a team many expect to win the state title was no condolence to Battle Ground, which came to Bellevue College on Saturday looking to make its own mark.
"We had the heart to play with these guys. It just wasn't enough," Battle Ground senior Colby Cahoon said. "I felt like we played well, it was just the turnovers."
That was 27 Tiger turnovers, as Garfield (24-1) bulldogged Battle Ground, forcing the Tigers to at times rush themselves. Battle Ground (17-9) turned over the ball eight times in the first six minutes. But despite 15 first-half turnovers, the Tigers were within two points at halftime.
"We were jacked," Cahoon said, describing the halftime mood. "We thought we had the game. We tried to feed off the momentum, but the momentum swung their way a little bit."
The momentum swung in a hurry.
Battle Ground never led, but was within 35-33 with 6:10 on the third-quarter clock. Garfield then made a 13-2 burst that included three transition baskets and seven points off of turnovers. When Zechariah Shepherd made a steal for a dunk at the third-quarter buzzer, the margin was 15 points.
Tramaine Isabelle scored eight of his 24 points and Brayon Blake scored nine of his 23 in the decisive third-quarter stretch for the Bulldogs.
"Garfield's a really good team, the No. 1 team in the state and we're not even ranked, so we wanted to come out and make our mark on the court," senior guard Jamie Ford said. "We wanted to go farther."
After trailing by 20 early in the fourth quarter, Battle Ground managed to climb within 11 points with 2:08 remaining, but in the end couldn't match Garfield's firepower. Nine players scored for the Tigers, led by Cahoon's 12 points. Junior post Devin Johnson added nine points.
This was the first time since 2002 that Battle Ground has advanced as far as the final 16 of the state tournament.
"This senior group really left their mark. They really built a foundation for the future of the program," Battle Ground coach Wes Armstrong said. "It hurts right now. But we gave it all we could and fell a little short. "
Jamie Ford said he will never forget his teammates and how hard they worked together to improve Battle Ground basketball.
"We worked our butts off every practice, every day we worked hard, and the outcome is what it is," Ford said.
The outcome was what many expected. But these Tigers kept the suspense in the game longer than many might have expected.
We lost to a good team. They're probably going to be in the state championship game," Armstrong said. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I'm just sorry to see these seniors leave."
GARFIELD 69, BATTLE GROUND 51
BATTLE GROUND — Jamie Ford 7, Nate Moring 5, Damien Ford 4, Jeff Moran 2, Devin Johnson 9, Ben Nikolas 0, Josh Lemar 6, Colby Cahoon 12, Andrej Besara 0, Taylor Smith 2, Leland O'Hanlon 0, Keaton Hoots 4. Totals: 17 (4) 13-18 51.
GARFIELD — Jashaun Agosto 7, Tramaine Isabell 24, Brayon Blake 23, Jaylen Nowell 0, Torrence Baker 2, Reynaldo Cheney 6, DeeShawn Tucker 7, Zecharaiah Shepherd 4, Austin Anderson 2. Totals: 27 (6) 9-15 69.
Battle Ground 11 18 18 11--51
Garfield 19 12 24 14--69