Sports

Cowboys rope in Eagles' dreams

Klahowya forward Dusty Rasmussen (No. 32) outbattles Nisqually League MVP Robbie Andrus (No. 40) for a defensive rebound Friday in the Eagles 59-49 loss to Chimacum in a loser-out game in the West Central District III Class 2A Tournament. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Klahowya forward Dusty Rasmussen (No. 32) outbattles Nisqually League MVP Robbie Andrus (No. 40) for a defensive rebound Friday in the Eagles 59-49 loss to Chimacum in a loser-out game in the West Central District III Class 2A Tournament.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

TACOMA — The Cinderella story that was the 2002-2003 Klahowya boys basketball season came to an end Friday as the team came up short 59-49 to Chimacum in a loser-out game in the West Central District III Class 2A Tournament.

“I can’t say enough about the squad,” said Klahowya coach Scott McMinds, his eyes bleary from a tearful post-game speech. “We’ve never had success in the past. Even though it ended on the note like this, I’m extremely proud of them.”

The Eagles and the Cowboys split their previous four meetings this season at 2-2 as Klahowya was able to put the brakes on Nisqually League MVP Robbie Andrus and his 26.5 points per game scoring average.

“This team plays him better than anybody else,” Chimacum coach Bob Thompson said.

Any thoughts that the Eagles (8-18 overall) might be able to slow the 6-foot-3 Andrus down came to a stop in the first half when he scored nine of the Cowboys’ 16 first-quarter points.

“Robbie came out guns blazing,” McMinds said. “Chimacum went to their horse and rode him the whole way.”

Andrus scored a game-high 26 points for the state-bound Cowboys (14-13) who beat Eatonville (11-14) 54-47 on Saturday for the final district berth. They’ll play Nooksack Valley (21-1) at 4:30 p.m. today at the Sun Dome in Yakima. It’s been a long time since the Chimacum boys have made it this far. The last time they were in the state tournament was in 1979 when they were a Class B school.

The Eagles brought a little firepower of their own as they outscored the Cowboys 18-11 in the second quarter to pull within two points at the half. Senior center Justin Wick tied it up for the Eagles at 29-29 1:17 into the third quarter and then could only watch as the Klahowya offense struggled to find the basket for the remainder of the quarter as the Cowboys outscored them 12-4 to take a 39-29 lead with eight minutes remaining.

With their season on the brink the Eagles watched as Chimacum stretched their lead to 49-36 half-way through the fourth quarter.

“When we got down by 13 in the fourth quarter it was hard to come back,” McMinds said. “But they held their heads up.”

Like they did down the stretch of their regular season where they won six of their final seven games, the Eagles outscored the Cowboys 12-10 as senior Dusty Rasmussen and junior Ryan McElwee each knocked in 3-point shots. McElwee led the Eagles with 16 points and Rasmussen finished his final game after six seasons in a Klahowya basketball uniform with 10 points.

“We gave it all we had, but things weren’t falling our way,” Rasmussen said. “It was a long, great run. Everybody counted us out this season and we made it all the way to the district playoffs which is amazing in itself. We started the season off not very well and toward the end nobody was even paying attention to Klahowya.

“And then we had the Cinderella story where we came all the way back. I hope it starts the fire and these guys will be tougher next year.”

Charlie Merry, Jared Ottmar, Wick and Rasmussen have been playing for McMinds since they were in the seventh grade.

“I expressed to the seniors my thanks because they lit the torch and it’s something that had never yet been ignited at Klahowya,” McMinds said. “They passed it on tonight in the locker room and that was tearful. There were only 13 people that thought we could make it (to districts).

“When we got that win against Chimacum, I told the kids more were going to follow and we’re going to make it not only to sub-districts, but districts. Right then they bought in and finally believed in themselves and started playing. And once we got here they realistically thought they had a chance with four teams in it and two going to state. Between us, Eatonville and Chimacum, it was anybody’s game.”

Led by McElwee (a starter), the Eagles have a solid core for next season’s team in place with juniors Steve Sanford, Jesse Cooper, Sam Shrager and Cody Fisher expected back.

Chimacum 59, Klahowya 49

Eagles 7 18 4 20 — 49

Cowboys 16 11 12 20 — 59

Klahowya — Steve Sanford 4, Jesse Cooper, Ryan McElwee 16, Charlie Merry 6, Cody Fisher 2, Jared Ottmar 6, Justin Wick 5, Dusty Rasmussen 10, Jake Schaeffer.

Chimacum — Dylan Hendy 3, Jesse Fischer, Reid Lawson, Christian Goodwin 3, Jori Pearsall 4, Justin Peters, Tanner Colton 6, Sam Evasick 6, Grant Jones, Robbie Andrus 26, Pete Brazil, Marcus Moug 4.

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