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Miles Fitzwilson, Columbia River boys show grit in 2A state loss to Anacortes

Senior overcomes knee injury to play one final game

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: February 28, 2024, 10:02pm
4 Photos
Columbia River players, from left, Miles Fitzwilson, Ari Richardson, Carter Sheron and John Reeder celebrate a 3-point basket by Richardson during a Class 2A boys basketball state playoff game against Anacortes on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Yakima.
Columbia River players, from left, Miles Fitzwilson, Ari Richardson, Carter Sheron and John Reeder celebrate a 3-point basket by Richardson during a Class 2A boys basketball state playoff game against Anacortes on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Yakima. (Micah Rice/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

YAKIMA – Miles Fitzwilson thought he would miss the crowning achievement of his high school basketball career.

Last Saturday, Columbia River booked its first trip to the Hardwood Classic in Yakima since 2019.

Yet Fitzwilson could barely celebrate that win in the regional round of the Class 2A boys basketball state tournament. The senior had suffered what he feared to be a serious knee injury late in the third quarter.

“I was like, oh, that’s one way to go out,” Fitzwilson said. “I was really kind of sad.”

Yet Wednesday, there was Fitzwilson fighting for rebounds and scoring key baskets in Columbia River’s round of 12 game against Anacortes at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Though the No. 12 seed Rapids lost to No. 5 Anacortes 69-56, Fitzwilson was happy to join four other seniors for one last game, this one on 2A basketball’s biggest stage.

“We haven’t been here before,” Fitzwilson said. “It’s awesome that we got here and I’m glad for all the lower classmen that they got a chance to get this experience like I did. Hopefully they make it back next year and go further.”

Fitzwilson’s injury turned out to be a dislocated patella tendon – a painful but not debilitating injury that would require a long recovery.

“I didn’t know if I was going to play until yesterday,” Fitzwilson said. “I tried to practice and it felt fine. I took some ibuprofen before the game and just stuck it out.”

Fitzwilson scored 12 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. His second of two 3-pointers pulled Columbia River within 56-54 with four minutes to play.

But that was the Rapids’ last meaningful basket. Anacortes scored the next 13 points, ending the game on a 13-2 run.

Columbia River’s junior guard tandem of Ari Richardson and Aaron Hoey led the way with 18 and 16 points, respectively.

With both Richardson and Hoey back, Fitzwilson believes the Rapids have a bright future. He and fellow seniors Nico Valdez, Adam Reeder, Carter Sheron and Leslie McCulley are leaving the program in a good place with first-year coach Mark Ganter.

“We’re starting a program,” Fitzwilson said. “I feel like we’re going to be very good the next several years.”

ANACORTES 69, COLUMBIA RIVER 56

COLUMBIA RIVER (18-8) – Savion McCoy 0, Ari Richardson 18, Leslie McCulley 2, Adam Reeder 0, John Reeder 0, Miles Fitzwilson 12, Alex Pont 0, Luca Phillips 0, Carter Sheron 4, Tyler Miles 0, Aaron Hoey 16, Nico Valdez 4. Totals 23-50 (5-15) 5-7 56.

ANACORTES (21-6) – Caden Houston 0, Ty Swapp 0, Gunner Willoghby 0, Davis Fogle 22, Luca Moore 2, Jake Andrew 22, Cooper Barton 2, Aiden Miller 2, Brennan Morgenthaler 0, Kylan Houston 0, Ryan Harrington 0, Michael Dickison 19. Totals 23-49 (7-26) 16-21 69.

Columbia River 13 17 13 13—56

Anacortes 13 13 21 22—69

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