The Columbia Adventist Academy boys basketball team will be on a mission Saturday in the state playoffs.
Whether the Kodiaks are successful has little to do with the final score.
“We want to give a good representation of what the Kodiak program is all about,” said head coach and athletic director Jay Pierce. “We play hard. We hustle and we help the other guy up. More than anything, we pride ourselves on sportsmanship.”
Columbia Adventist, which is in Battle Ground, won the Class 1B Columbia Valley League by going 9-1. The Kodiaks then finished second in the District 4 tournament.
But Columbia Adventist (14-4) will face a tough opponent in the regional round of the state tournament Saturday at Renton High School.
Seattle Lutheran (20-1) entered the postseason No. 2 in the Associated Press statewide poll and was unbeaten before losing to Shorewood Christian in its district championship game.
“On paper we don’t have a chance,” Pierce said. “But they play the games for a reason.”
Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s loser-out game, Pierce said his team will feel gratitude.
They are gracious for the chance to be one of 16 teams still playing this season. The last time the Kodiaks made it to the final 16 was in 2012-13.
They are gracious that district and state tournament organizers scheduled Columbia Adventist’s games to accommodate its Sabbath, which lasts from sunset Friday until sunset Saturday. This weekend’s game will begin at 8 p.m.
The Kodiaks are led by Matthew Rodriguez, a 6-foot-3 senior who is averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds per game this season.
Columbia Adventist’s two other seniors, Jonathan Kinsman and Nicholas Anspach, have also been key contributors.
The Kodiaks have just two players taller than six foot. Pierce said they are undersized compared to other tournament teams, whose schools have football programs.
Columbia Adventist doesn’t have any football players, but many on its basketball team play soccer. Pierce said he sees that in his players’ endurance and hustle.
“We never stop working,” he said. “We’re not flashy. We’re not the most skilled. But we just keep going.”