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Monday, September 25, 2023
Sept. 25, 2023

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Woodland boys can’t keep up with talented Foss in 82-45 loss

Sixberry leads the Beavers with 25 points

By , Columbian Sports Editor

BATTLE GROUND — Roughly 15 minutes after their season came to an end Saturday, the Woodland boys basketball team gathered for photos.

As players emerged from the locker room at Battle Ground High School, they were given the giant-sized cutouts of their faces that the student section had cheered with.

The players posed, making a memory after a game they’d rather forget. Woodland was beaten by Foss 82-45 in the regional round of the Class 2A state tournament.

Despite 25 points from Tanner Sixberry, Woodland couldn’t keep up with the up-tempo offense and defensive pressure of their opponent from Tacoma. Foss led 23-10 after one quarter and 45-18 at halftime.

“You don’t see fast teams like that down here,” Sixberry said. “Our league is more about structure and running sets and getting out when you can. … We had a gameplan, but there is only so much you can do.”

Woodland couldn’t do anything about drawing Foss in the regional round, a mismatch that could amplify scrutiny on the RPI-based seeding system the WIAA is using for the first time.

Despite being ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press state rankings, Foss was No. 20 in the RPI rankings. Foss (21-5) had its RPI dragged down by its low strength of schedule and three losses at a tough out-of-state holiday tournament, where strength of schedule isn’t factored in.

For that reason, Foss wasn’t among the top eight teams guaranteed spots among the final 12 next week in Yakima. The Falcons were matched against No. 18 Woodland in Saturday’s loser-out game.

“In my opinion, they’re the best team I’ve seen on film in the state,” Woodland coach Andrew Johnson said. “But at this point, you have to beat those types of teams, whether you see them early or late.”

Still, Johnson said the seeding criteria could use another look.

“I think something has to be fixed,” he said. “It’s a good idea to get 12 teams in, but you’ve got to get the seeding right because they’re not the 20th-best team in the state.”

Woodland (15-7) had planned to counter Foss’ speed by switching to a zone defense. But the high-pressure defense of Foss caused turnovers that resulted in several fast-break baskets in the first half.

“The thing about them, you don’t just have to slow them down, you have to weather the storm of their pressure,” Johnson said.

Sixberry came alive in the second half of his final high school game. The forward scored 13 points in the third quarter and seven in the fourth.

Shortly after one last group photo, Sixberry said he’ll always remember the team’s five seniors that led the Beavers to two consecutive state tournament berths.

“It’s for sure a special group,” Sixberry said. “I’ve played with them since fourth grade. I’m going to miss it.”


FOSS – Damani Kelly 7, Demetrius Crosby 13, Micah Pollard 8, Tre Tyson 12, Isaiah Jackson 2, Antonney Henry 0, Berto Gittens 20, Rakim Nelson 2, Christian Barnes 0, Donald Scott 18. Totals 32 (8) 10-11 82.

WOODLAND – Bryce Mulder 4, Josh Pascual 2, Devin Rice 3, Wyatt Harsh 0, Palmer Dinehart 8, Tristan Thomas 0, Isaiah Flanagan 0, Tyler Flanagan 2, Tanner Sixberry 25, Trey Hanson 0. Totals 15 (4) 12-14 45.

Foss 23 22 15 22 — 82

Woodland 10 8 14 13 — 45