Willapa Valley and Mossyrock traded blows back and forth for three quarters.
But in the final round, it was Valley that delivered the knockout blow.
Willapa Valley turned what was a two point lead at the end of three into a rout, blistering Mossyrock in the fourth quarter to earn a 77-58 victory in a 1B State quarterfinal matchup on Thursday in Spokane.
Valley (20-5 overall) got off to a good start, opening the game with an 8-0 run after hitting shots on its first three possessions of the game.
Willapa Valley held an eight-point lead twice in the first half, but never could string together a run to put away Mossyrock (20-7).
Valley led 38-27 at the half and led by as much as 12 points before Mossyrock made its move.
Mossyrock cut the deficit to two points at the end of a third quarter in which it outscored Valley 17-8.
But the No. 4 Valley Vikings were up to the task in the final period.
Willapa Valley senior guard Riley Pearson attacked the basket to score six straight points early in the fourth quarter to jump-start the Valley offense, which scored 31 points in one of its best offensive quarters of the season.
By the time the dust settled, Valley emerged with a 19-point victory and a trip to the state Final Four.
“We attacked the basket in one of the better nights in which we attacked the basket,” Coach Pearson said. “When we attack the basket and shoot like that, good things happen and that’s what happened tonight.”
In a performance Coach Pearson dubbed the “first complete game as a team,” four of Willapa Valley’s five starters scored in double figures.
Riley Pearson led the way with 24 points, including splashing 9 of 10 from the charity stripe, followed by Kolten Fluke (12 points), Wil Clements (12 points) and floor-wizard Garrett Keeton (10 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists).
Valley’s other starter – senior Derek Fluke – scored nine points after being one of several Valley players stung with early foul trouble.
Willapa Valley bench players Nathan Fluke and Blaine King had big minutes off the bench, each scoring points in the victory.
“It was a total team effort because we were in severe foul trouble,” said Coach Pearson, who had to dig deep into his bench as three players picked up three fouls in the second quarter and his team finished with a total of 18 personal fouls. “I was proud of the kids and the way the kids persevered through all the calls and just played basketball.”
Willapa Valley shot 58% from the field on 30-of-51 shooting and hit 10 of 15 free throws (66%) after missing four straight to start the game.
Valley’s defense was led by Kolten Fluke, who held Mossyrock’s high-scoring senior guard Keegan Kolb to 16 points, and Clements, who kept Mossyrock junior Zackary Munoz to 15 points.
Valley advances to the 1B State semifinals where it will face No. 1 Wellpinit in a battle of the section’s only two teams still undefeated against 1B competition.
“They’re a good team. They’re quick and, similar to Mossy, they are going to try to pound our guards,” Coach Pearson said of Valley’s semifinal opponent. “We’re going to have to play smart, disciplined ball – controlled ball.”
The matchup is set for 7:15 p.m. Friday in Spokane
Mossyrock 10 17 14 17 – 58
Willapa Valley 16 22 8 31 – 77