TACOMA — The comeback was complete. After trailing by 18 points midway through the third quarter, Skyview’s boys basketball team scrapped its way to a 61-61 tie with Central Valley late in the fourth quarter.
But 2 minutes and 40 seconds after Cody McKinney finished an easy layup on a feed from Kyle Gruhler, the Storm walked away from the 4A State quarterfinal Thursday as 65-64 losers. They will play in a 12:15 p.m. consolation game against Olympia on Friday.
A pair of turnovers, which Central Valley converted into points, put the Storm behind 65-61. Two free throws from Gruhler brought the Storm to within 65-63 with 15.7 seconds remaining.
“We were getting killed, getting dogged,” Gruhler said. “It was gut-check time and it was one of those moments where you fight the whole season for this.”
Only one problem: the Storm had just one team foul the second half and couldn’t send the Bears to the free-throw line. Skyview needed to force a turnover. The Storm got two.
Sean Boss came up with the first steal, heaving up a quick shot and then grabbing his own miss and getting fouled on the putback. He made one of two free throws to cut the deficit to 65-64.
Squeeky Johnson poked the ball away on Central Valley’s ensuing inbound pass and it was again Skyview ball, this time with 3.7 seconds left. A timeout gave coach Matt Gruhler to draw up a play the Storm have wanted to use all year.
Squeeky Johnson inbounded across the court to Jace Chatman, Kyle Gruhler came off a screen and received the pass. But Central Valley was privy to the play and blanketed the Northwest Nazarene commit, who fired an off-balanced 3-pointer that came up short.
“Our guys, I love them to death. They give everything they’ve got for each other,” coach Matt Gruhler said. “I’m so proud of them. There’s a lot of teams that I’ve been around that down 18 in the third quarter would say ‘You know what? Today is just not our day.’”
Gruhler finished with a game-high 31 points and 10 rebounds. He did so on 11-of-18 shooting.
Fourth-ranked Central Valley (24-2), which built a 54-36 lead, picked up 17 points from Jayce Simmons, and 16 apiece from Noah Sanders and Gavin Gilstrap.
“In that third quarter, we got away from who we are and made a few too many mistakes,” coach Gruhler said. “Just not quite as sharp as we need to be.”
Jace Chatman added 17 points for the Storm (19-10) and Cody McKinney finished with 10.
“It’s difficult because now we don’t have a chance at the state title but we still can get a trophy,” Kyle Gruhler said. “You lose one but you have to come back the next day ready to fight again.”
CENTRAL VALLEY 65, SKYVIEW 64
SKYVIEW (19-10) — Squeeky Johnson 3, Alec Marshall 0, Kyle Gruhler 31, Jace Chatman 17, Cody McKinney 10, Sean Boss 3, David Sheppert 0. Totals 23-40 (8-18) 10-11 64.
CENTRAL VALLEY (24-2) — Jayce Simmons 17, Ryan Clay 0, Noah Sanders 16, Quinn Johnson 6, Gavin Gilstrap 16, Luke Sukut 0, Dylan Darling 8, Carsen Raab 2, Teagen Hoard 0. Totals 27-48 (5-14) 6-6 65.
Skyview 17 16 13 18—64
C. Valley 21 15 20 9—65