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Columbia River stunned by Shelton at the buzzer

Shelton wins play-in game in what turns out to be Rapids’ coach final game

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 10, 2022, 9:53pm

Columbia River’s boys basketball season and the storied career for its coach came to an end Thursday courtesy of a buzzer-beater and mob celebration by their opponent.

Tyler Ireland’s catch and shoot jumper inside the free-throw line as time expired lifted visiting Shelton to a 50-48 victory Thursday in the teams’ 2A district play-in game.

It marked a stunning end to what otherwise was a furious 19-point second-half comeback by the host Rapids after a dismal shooting performance left River trailing 32-16 at halftime.

River’s season ends at 7-13 overall, while Shelton, the fourth-seeded team out of the 2A Evergreen Conference, advances to Saturday’s 2A district tournament against R.A. Long.

It also marks an end to longtime head coach David Long’s career. Long finishes with 485 victories over 32 seasons, including the past 30 as the River boys head coach.

And what a final game to remember.

Shelton’s size advantage with the 6-foot-8 Ireland (game-high 21 points) occupying the paint and a 1-2-2 zone left River struggling to get into a groove offensively.

The results were in the numbers: 2 of 16 shooting from 3-point range the opening two quarters.

At one point, the deficit reached 36-16, and 3 minutes later, 38-19, inside 3 minutes left in the third before what turned into a sizzling offensive performance and comeback by River.

And doing a lot of the damage were two freshmen: Aaron Hoey (team-best 18 points) and Ari Richardson (nine), who combined for eight 3s the final two quarters. Both were held scoreless in the first half. Hoey had 12 of River’s 21 fourth-quarter points, and part of a 27-10 second-half run by River.

“That was a fun run,” Long said. “That second half was phenomenal. I couldn’t be more proud of how we competed and played.”

The pressure didn’t faze Hoey, he said. He posted back-to-back 3s inside 1 minute left, including a top-of-the-key shot with 16.4 remaining to tie the game at 48-all.

“Playing at the varsity level, you have to be confident in every shot you take,” Hoey said. “We came out in the second half knowing we had to shoot and we executed. We almost had it.”

But the final possession is one River will ponder on for a while: a turnover after the full-court pass sailed to the other baseline without a touch with 1.3 seconds to play.

That set up Shelton for Ireland’s game-winner, a catch-and-shoot in the paint as time expired.

Long took sole responsibility for River’s final possession, adding they had never practiced what they attempted.

“Totally my mistake; I just got greedy,” Long said. “It was a bad decision. The thing should’ve gone into overtime.”


SHELTON — Bo Blacketer 2, Noble Pugh 0, Mason Goos 6, Charles Thompson 11, Tyler Ireland 21, Matai Lei Sam 10. Totals 19 (3) 9-14 50.

COLUMBIA RIVER — Alden Fey 8, Nate Bertolino 0, Ari Richardson 9, Sam Boyle 0, Carter Sheron 3, Aaron Hoey 18, Nico Valdez 10. Totals 16 (11) 5-6 48.

Shelton 18 14 6 12—50

Col River 7 9 11 21—48