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Seton Catholic beats Stevenson to advance to 1A district third place game

The Cougars closed out the second quarter on a 17-2 run

By , Columbian Staff Writer
5 Photos
Seton Catholic's Hayden Miller celebrates going into halftime with a 35-18 lead. Seton beat Stevenson 56-41 in a loser-out 1A district playoff game on Thursday, Feb. 15 2018 at King's Way Christian.
Seton Catholic's Hayden Miller celebrates going into halftime with a 35-18 lead. Seton beat Stevenson 56-41 in a loser-out 1A district playoff game on Thursday, Feb. 15 2018 at King's Way Christian. Photo Gallery

Seton Catholic coach Phil Kent saw Thursday’s result as much more than just a notch in the win column.

When the Cougars blew past Stevenson 56-41 in a loser-out game in the 1A district playoffs at King’s Way Christian, two days after the team’s most bitter loss of the season, Kent saw a newfound resolve in his players.

Two seasons ago Seton finished the season 2-18. Last season, it made the postseason for the first time in school history, though didn’t find much success after getting there. Now the Cougars are the furthest they’ve ever been into the postseason, and are playing for a chance to advance to regionals.

“It’s really exciting,” Phil Kent said. “I’m proud of them, and it’s just another step in the progression of changing the culture.”

Matt Kent finished with 18 points—12 points in the first half—and Henry Demsky added 14 points for the Cougars.

Stevenson was paced by league MVP Isaac Hoidal’s 17 points. Seton’s defensive strategy was centered on stopping Hoidal—and athletic guard Lincoln Krog. Most of Hoidal’s point came from the foul line, where he was 9 of 10.

In the span of a year, the Cougars went from “just happy to get in the playoffs,” according to Kent, to a made 3-pointer away from taking down 1A Trico League juggernaut La Center in the district semifinals Tuesday.

The loss was tough to swallow for Seton. But the team was adamant to not let it derail its season.

The game Thursday was neck-and-neck in the beginning. In the second quarter, the Cougars blew the door open.

Seton strung together a 17-2 run to go into halftime up 35-18. After the halftime buzzer sounded, Seton players jumped up and down and ran into the locker room as members of the boisterous Cougar student section leaned over the guard rails to give the hyped players hi-fives.

That 17-point cushion proved crucial as Stevenson made numerous attempts to play its way back into the game in the second half.

“We’re capable of that,” Phil Kent said. “Any given night, any given moment. We play fast and we’re rhythm shooters. We’ll shoot really well.”

And it dug Stevenson into a hole that proved difficult to get out of. The Bulldogs pulled within 11 points in the third quarter after Bennett Wright hit a 3, but cut the deficit to single digits.

“We came out in the second half and gave everything we had,” Stevenson coach Keven Edwards said. “We worked hard to get back into the game. … We just came up short.”

The ability to find a rhythm on offense is something Seton says it’s groomed throughout the season.

And it was a season that started with a lot of losses for the Cougars. They won just two of its first 10 games, and felt like they fell off the radar. Then they strung together a 5-5 league record—enough to qualify for districts.

“I think we lost a lot of believers,” Demsky said. “We were the only ones who believed in us—us and our school. Throughout the season we slowly found a rhythm and started trusting each other. We’re not a young team, we’re not an old team, we’re not a big team, we’re a fast team and it’s all about trusting each other and trusting the coach. We came together at the end and I think we can go far.”

Seton faces Montesano on Saturday in the third place game and will play for a bid to regionals at Kelso High School, since the top three teams from districts advance.

The Cougars are already farther into the postseason than the program has ever been. But their work isn’t finished.

“We’re ecstatic,” Demsky said.

Said Phil Kent: “These guys are learning what it takes to play, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally, playoff basketball.”

SETON CATHOLIC—Henry Desmky 14, Isaiah Parker 9, Matthew Kent 18, Luke Pitzer 7, Hayden Miller 2, Topher Strong 0, Chris Dumas 0, Malik Williams 2, Sam Jackson 0, Andrew Olson 2, Zach Cowger 2. 22 (7) 5-10 56.
STEVENSON—Maclain Hall 10, Jesse Miller 0, Jono Blackledge 5, Lincoln Krog 2, Preston Lowery 0, Charles Hobbs 2, Alec VanPelt 0, Brady Hall 0, Isaac Hoidal 17, Willy Lanz 2, Jon Webb 0, Bennett Wright 3. 14 (4) 11-16 41.
Seton Catholic 10 25 11 10—56
Stevenson 12 6 12 11—41

Columbian Staff Writer