TUMWATER — Once they found their offensive rhythm, there was no stopping Taholah’s boys from taking the fast track to state.
Shooting 60 percent from the field in the middle two quarters, the Chitwhins punched their tickets to state with a 76-47 blowout of Naselle in a regional 1B boys basketball tournament contest Friday night at Tumwater’s Thunderbird Pavilion.
With its fourth victory over Coastal 1B League rival Naselle in as many tries this season, Taholah (22-2) survived the single-elimination phase of regionals and earned its second successive state berth.
The Chitwhins will open the state 1B tournament Wednesday at the Spokane Arena. They will face the loser of today’s Neah Bay vs. Almira-Coulee-Hartline regional contest in the opening round.
The recipient of several long lead passes on fast breaks, senior guard Tom Anderson scored 18 points to share Taholah scoring honors with backcourt mate Brett Orozco. Zach Cain turned in a double-double for the Chitwhins with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Naselle guard Donny Edwards led all scorers with 19 points. The all-underclass Comets closed out their season at 14-10.
Particularly in a 25-point second quarter, the Chitwhins at times operated with almost machine-like efficiency on the offensive end.
They’d take — and usually make — the outside shot when it was open. When it wasn’t, they dumped passes inside for either layins or to draw fouls. They also ran the fast break exceptionally well in the second and third quarters.
“We’re pretty lethal either way,” Taholah coach Mike Rose said of his team’s inside-outside game.
“That’s what we try to do,” Orozco observed. “We try to find the open guy, get easy baskets and get back on defense.”
Although Orozco indicated he was no more nervous than in a regular-season game, the Chitwhins didn’t kick into gear until late in the first quarter.
Both teams were cold from the perimeter in the early going. While the Chitwhins never trailed, they owned only a 13-10 lead entering the final minute of the opening stanza.
Cain changed the game’s complexion by tallying seven points in the final 35 seconds of the quarter.
The 6-foot-3 junior first went coast-to-coast after grabbing a rebound, made a layin and drew a foul. He got his own rebound on the ensuing missed free throw, converted the putback and was again fouled — this time completing the three-point play.
Following a Comet turnover, Cain scored again from in close with two seconds remaining to give Taholah a 20-10 lead at the first break.
The margin was only nine before the Chitwhins went on a 16-4 run to end the first half. This time it was Anderson who did most of the damage on the transition game. Scoreless until then, the senior guard contributed nine points to the spree that enabled Taholah to own a 45-24 halftime bulge.
The Chitwhins made 11-of-15 field-goal attempts in the second quarter.
“The key was getting the boards, running and setting up our offense,” Rose said.
Taholah continued its torrid pace until raggedness perhaps inevitably creeped into its offense midway through the third quarter. Despite committing 14 of their 17 turnovers in the second half, the Chitwhins led by as many as 33 early in the fourth quarter.
Orozco, who hit four of his team’s six 3-point baskets, also had five rebounds. Senior forward Terrance Jones had a fine all-around outing with six rebounds and four assists.
As a team, Taholah blocked five shots.
Naselle 10 14 8 15 — 47 Taholah 20 25 15 16 — 76
Naselle (47) — Edwards 19, Eaton 4, Lund, Gregory 6, Nolan 10, Fontanilla 3, Dalton, Lindstrom 1, Fauver 4, Haataia. FG — 19-60 (.317). FT — 3-7.
Taholah (76) — Anderson 18, B. Orozco 18, Jackson 8, Cain 17, Jones 6, Dan, J. Orozco 2, Purdy 4, J. Bastian, Mowitch 3, D. Bastian, Young. FG — 29-57 (.509). FT — 12-22.