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Complete performance puts Columbia River boys into trophy round

Chieftains will face Selah for fourth-place Saturday

By , Columbian Staff Writer
Published:
6 Photos
Columbia River’'s Jack Armstrong (24) cuts through Renton’'s defense to the hoop in the WIAA 2A boys state basketball tournament on Friday, Mar. 2, 2018, at the Yakima Valley SunDome. Columbia River Chieftains defeated the Renton Indians 64-44.
Columbia River’'s Jack Armstrong (24) cuts through Renton’'s defense to the hoop in the WIAA 2A boys state basketball tournament on Friday, Mar. 2, 2018, at the Yakima Valley SunDome. Columbia River Chieftains defeated the Renton Indians 64-44. (TJ Mullinax/for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

YAKIMA—Columbia River put together its most complete performance of the 2018 postseason.

And now the Chieftains are guaranteed to leave Yakima with a trophy.

River dispensed of Renton 64-44 in a 2A state tournament consolation game on Friday. Yes, the exact same Renton team that narrowly lost in the final second to the Chieftains’ co-league title winner, Mark Morris, on Thursday.

It’s the farthest any player on the River roster has gone in the postseason.

“We came to win the thing, and that’s not going to happen because we didn’t get it done [Thursday in the quarterfinals], but we are guaranteed a trophy, which is a great deal for these kids,” River coach David Long said. “They’ve worked hard to get a state tournament trophy.”

After consecutively lackluster second halves in the previous two rounds, the Chieftains turned the tables on Friday, leaving no doubt what team would be competing in the fourth/sixth place game on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

In the first round of state on Wednesday, River let a 20-point halftime lead slip away and held on to beat Fife by single digits. In Thursday’s quarterfinals, a nine-point River second half resulted in a loss to No. 1 seeded Lynden.

Friday was a different story.

The Chieftains outscored Renton a convincing 28-14 in the fourth quarter, and as a team shot 57.1 percent on second half field goals and 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

“If we had good second halves, we’d be in the semifinals tonight,” Long said. “We haven’t. We’ve had leads in every single game at half. We just haven’t gone out and closed the deal. … We we re in the same situation tonight, and I was really proud. We didn’t go backwards. We went forward.”

Evan Dirksen led all scorers with 17 points and grabbed six boards. Nasseen Gutierrez managed a double-double—12 points and 12 boards—to help the Chieftains own a slight edge on the glass (38-36). And Jacob Hjort layered in 16 points, including 3-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.

“Evan’s basketball smarts really came through,” Long said. “He scored. Somebody was going to have to guard Evan and it wasn’t going to be a 6-5 kid. And Evan took advantage of that. Kids, to their credit, found him, got him the ball.”

Renton didn’t have trouble getting to the rim, but River’s defense held firm.

With 3:32 left in the fourth quarter, River guard Nate Snook blocked a fast break layup attempt from Renton’s Deondre Russ. When Russ tried to save the ball from going out of bounds, he threw it to Hjort, who sent a pass down court to Gutierrez for a transition layup, putting the Chieftains up 49-35.

And they kept piling on.

“We came out to play this time,” Gutierrez said. “Defended well, rebounded well, shot well and everything just seemed to click today.”

COLUMBIA RIVER 64, RENTON 44
RENTON—Deondre Russ 9, Jaloni Gardner 12, Jaden Locke 0, Malik Coats 2, Jamill Jimerson 6, Marcus Daniels 0, Demarco Williams 4, Peyton Valentine 4, Vershan Jackson 2, O’Shae Barquet 3, Edward Barquet 3, Romero Otero 2. Totals 13-54 (4-23) 14-19 44.
COLUMBIA RIVER—Jacob Hjort 16, Evan Dirksen 17, Caden Dezort 3, Jack Armstrong 2, Nasseen Gutierrez 12, Nate Snook 6, David Anderson 1, Mason Waite 2, Kiran Brar 3, Skyler Grote 0, Kyle Gomez 2. Totals 22-47 (6-18) 14-24 64.
Renton 14 4 12 14—44
Columbia River 12 12 12 28—64

Columbian Staff Writer

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