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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Young Seton Catholic plans to build on 1A state basketball loss

No. 6 Toppenish pulls away in second half to beat Cougars 62-42

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: March 1, 2023, 6:47pm
4 Photos
Seton Catholic’s Lance Lee drives past two Toppenish defenders during a Class 1A boys basketball state tournament game on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Yakima.
Seton Catholic’s Lance Lee drives past two Toppenish defenders during a Class 1A boys basketball state tournament game on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Yakima. (Micah Rice/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

YAKIMA – Seton Catholic boys basketball coach Aaron Jenniges describes his team’s past several years as a series of stepping stones.

There was the program’s first postseason berth in 2016. Then came the first of back-to-back state regional berths in 2019 and a spot in the 2020 district championship game.

But no Seton team has gone far as this season’s. Though the Cougars’ first Class 1A state tournament trip to the Yakima Valley SunDome ended with a 62-42 loss to Toppenish on Wednesday, reaching the round of 12 has Jenniges excited about the future.

And why not? With only two seniors, seven sophomores and three freshmen, the Cougars aren’t likely to take a step backward anytime soon.

“Nobody thought we’d get to this stage except for us,” said sophomore wing Lance Lee. “We put in the work and it showed. You don’t see a team with two seniors and a bunch of sophomores get this far that often.”

To reach the final 12 in Yakima, Seton survived four loser-out games stretching back to the district tournament and culminating with an overtime win over Seattle Christian in the state tournament’s opening round last Friday in Auburn.

The Cougars’ two seniors, Jack Jenniges and Breckin Miller, weren’t going to be denied the eastward trip that’s a crowning achievement of their high school careers.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of since freshman year,” Jack Jenniges said. “He (Lance) is only two years in, but he’s dreamed of it. So it’s huge for my final year to make it here with them and everyone else on my team.”

For the first half, No. 14-seeded Seton Catholic (18-8) hung with Toppenish (19-6), which was the No. 6 seed after placing second in the South Central Athletic Conference.

Lee scored 10 points as the Cougars trailed 23-20 at halftime despite shooting 10 for 25 (31.8%) from the field.

But Toppenish found its shooting touch in the second half. Seton didn’t.

The Wildcats opened the third quarter on a 14-6 run. The Cougars would not pull within single digits for the rest of the game as Toppenish made 16 of 24 field goals (66.7%) in the second half.

“They faced a really good team,” Aaron Jenniges said. “That’s top 12 in state. Now they see what they need to be next year.”

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Lee and fellow sophomore Brady Angelo each finished with 11 points. Jack Jenniges had eight points and nine rebounds.

Though Lee and his fellow sophomores plan on returning to Yakima, he gave a shoutout to the two seniors who led Seton further than any in the program had before.

“It speaks volumes about the character they have,” Lee said. “They brought us this far. I don’t know how they were able to do it, but they did. Now it’s our turn to keep up what they laid out for us. We’ll be back.”

TOPPENISH 62, SETON CATHOLIC 42

SETON CATHOLIC (18-8) – Brady Angelo 11, Rico George 2, Lance Lee 11, Brecken Miller 0, Jack Jenniges 8, Tyler Tran 6, Ryker Ruelas 1, Thomas Clute 3, Max Ackerman 0, Easton Ross 0, Ja’Marcus Robinson 0, Jesse Hartsell 0. Totals 15 (7), 5-12 42.

TOPPENISH (19-6) – Graysen Mesplie 3, Josh Perez 18, Shane Rivera 22, Santana Luna 0, Jayden Hanson 4, Josh Meyers 0, Anthony Cisneros 6, Izaiah Maldanado 0, Nick Cortes 0, Jason Sanchez 4, CJ Torres 3, Gage Williams 2. Totals 26 (6) 4-6 62.

Seton 7 13 8 14—42

Toppenish 9 14 18 21 –62

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