KELSO — Down two at halftime on Thursday evening, Seton Catholic captain Isaiah Parker sounded the alarm to his teammates in a series of questions.
“Do you want to go home?” Parker asked, pointing teammates out individually. “Do you want this to be your last game?”
Turns out it was just the siren bells the Cougars needed that night.
And on Saturday evening, with their backs against the wall two days later, they channeled the same message.
Seton Catholic throttled Montesano 74-48 when it matter most: a loser-out, third place game in the 1A district boys tournament.
And by winning on Saturday night at Kelso High School — its fourth game in five days — Seton secured the district’s final 1A state tournament bid, to become the first team in program history to qualify for state, making good on a goal the team set at the beginning of the season.
The win came nine days after losing to the same Montesano team by two in overtime.
“Intent happened,” Seton coach Kris Small said. “It became real. The idea that if we didn’t win, their time as Seton basketball (players) would be done. So intent was the real thing that changed.”
The Cougars first felt their backs against the wall at halftime a day earlier. After Parker’s war cry, they went on to score a 28-point first quarter and win the loser-out game by 15.
On Saturday, that energy carried into the opening minutes.
Seton started on a 17-3 run and led by 19 points by the end of the first quarter.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we just started the right way and put it on a team?” Small said. “That’s kind of the mindset we had. Let’s start strong and finish strong.”
Gabe Anderson, the team’s leading scorer and a transfer from Evergreen, hit three 3-pointers in the quarter and finished with a game-high 23 points. Xavian Rushing scores 14 points and Isaiah Parker and Delano Morgan added 11 apiece.
Montesano was led by Sam Winter’s 18 points. The Bulldogs matched Seton’s scoring through the remainder of the game, but couldn’t get out of the hole produced by the first quarter.
Parker, who led the Cougars in scoring the last two seasons, didn’t take his first shot until over a minute into the second quarter (a made 3-pointer).
That’s no accident. Parker has embraced the role of a distributor this season, which Small lauds as a key cog to the team’s success.
“He knows other guys on the team can make it happen,” Small said. “There’s so many people that can help and he doesn’t have to carry the burden. … he’s just been a great facilitator — score when needed and dish when appropriate.”
With La Center and King’s Way Christian locked into the district’s first two bids, Seton’s result means the 1A Trico League’s top three teams swept the top three bids.
For Seton, which had to take the long way to a state berth, unlike its league foes, the team was determined to complete a goal it set to achieve back in November: become the first school history to reach the dome.
To do that, the Cougars have one more game to win — in next weekend’s regional round of state.
“At the start of the season we said we can do it, we can get to state, and we’ve proven it,” Anderson said.
SETON CATHOLIC 74, MONTESANO 48
SETON CATHOLIC (18-6) — Isaiah Parker 11, Kellen Ball 3, Luke Pitzer 0, Hayden Miller 0, Malik Williams 3, Jacob George 0, Gabe Anderson 23, Delano Morgan 11, Xavian Rushing 14, Andrew Olson 5, Griffin Young 0. Totals 25 (12) 10-12 74.
MONTESANO (14-10) — Braden Dohrmann 0, Evan Bates 6, Trace Ridgway 2, Tanner Nicklas 10, Sam Winter 18, Carter Olsen 3, Payson Parker 0, Cole Daniels 0, Ben Wills 0, Shaydon Farmer 7, Garrett Iverson 0. Totals 13 (4) 11-17 74.
Seton Catholic 29 10 17 12–74
Montesano 8 12 19 7–48