SPOKANE - You wouldn't think the losers' bracket would give you better competition than the winners' bracket in any tournament.
Waitsburg-Prescott found out otherwise in an elimination loss to an athletic Life Christian squad from Tacoma, 63-49, at the Class 2B boys state tournament at the Spokane Arena Thursday.
"It was one of those things where they were a very athletic, run-and-gun team," Waitsburg-Prescott coach T.J. Scott said. "We knew we had to slow it down. We knew we had to work the ball inside and we did. We got to the line a lot in the first three quarters.
"Then, we went into the fourth and we couldn't buy a layin," he said. "We'd go in for the rebound, the ball would get tipped outside, they'd grab it and be off running. Then we'd try to catch them and it seemed like they'd make it everytime, and we'd foul them and they'd have a three-point play. That's all I remember from the fourth quarter."
W-P and the Eagles played an even first three quarters. The two teams were deadlocked at 13 after the first period; W-P led by one at half; and Life Christian was up by two going into the fourth.
Then the lid closed over W-P's hoop, and W-P didn't get to the line as often as in the first three periods.
Life Christian sprinted to a seven-point lead to start the fourth, but a Wyatt Withers layup and a Kris Cady put-back narrowed the gap to three at the six-minute mark.
After that, W-P registered only two more field goals and the Eagles' string of three straight three-point plays commenced. All three were tallied by Eagles forward Drew Curry.
Life Christian ended the game on a 17-6 run.
"I'm definitely frustrated, but I'm happy with the effort," Scott said. "We played really hard. That was a better team than we played (Wednesday)."
"We should have won our first game yesterday," W-P senior Jace Zuger said with a sigh. "That was the worst team here, but we lost."
"We didn't foul hard enough," W-P post Chance McDaniel contributed. "We should have fouled hard enough to make sure they didn't get the and-1. That might have changed the game a little bit."
Zach Bartlow led W-P in scoring for the second game in a row, with 13 points against the Eagles. Withers added another 11.
Bartlow and Cady shared team-high board honors with eight.
Four Life Christian players scored in double figures, led by Jordan King's 18. Christian Paige, Drew Curry and Bryant Diggs scored 13, 12 and 11 points, respectively.
King led the Eagles with 13 rebounds.
The game marked the last time nine W-P seniors put on a Waitsburg or Prescott basketball uniform.
"I told my seniors, ‘Great year. It's been a fun ride. Thanks for all your blood, sweat and tears for these two schools. You'll all be missed,'" Scott said.
"No more organized basketball," Zuger said with resignation. "It's going to be different, not suiting up again and playing for an actual team."
"I told them I was proud of our season," said Scott. "Our first goal was to make it to state, and we did. Our second goal was hardware, which obviously we're not going to get, and that's disappointing."
"It sucks not playing basketball again, not coming back next year," McDaniel said. "But at least we made it to state. That was our goal.
"For four years we dreamed about it and we finally made it," he said. "We may not have won a game, but it happened."
WAITSBURG-PRESCOTT (49) - Hernandez 0-0 0-0 0, Cady 3-10 0-2 7, Zuger 0-1 0-0 0, Withers 4-9 1-4 10, Bartlow 3-8 6-8 13, Gerke 1-4 2-4 4, Wooderchak 0-0 0-0 0, Alexenko 0-0 0-0 0, Kiefel 1-10 2-2 4, McDaniel 2-7 0-0 4, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Lehr 2-8 2-2 7. Totals 16-57 13-22 49.
LIFE CHRISTIAN (63) - Williamson 0-0 0-0 0, Hutchens 2-9 2-7 7, King 5-9 7-8 18, Ricker 0-2 0-0 0, Paige 5-11 2-6 13, Gandara 0-0 0-0 0, Absten 0-1 0-0 0, Gilge 0-0 0-0 0, Curry 4-9 4-6 12, McKee 0-1 2-6 2, Diggs 4-12 3-4 11. Totals 20-54 20-37 63.
W-P 13 12 14 10 - 49
Life Christian 13 11 17 22 - 63
3-point goals - W-P 4-15 (Cady 1-2, Withers 1-3, Bartlow 1-3, McDaniel 0-1, Lehr 1-6), Life 3-8 (Hutchens 1-1, King 1-3, Paige 1-3, Diggs 0-1). Total fouls - W-P 22, Life 20. Fouled out - W-P (Kiefel). Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - W-P 42 (Cady 8, Bartlow 8), Life 47 (King 13). Turnovers - W-P 8, Life 11. Steals - W-P 2, Life 6 (Hutchens 3). Assists - W-P 5 (Withers 4), Life 5 (King 2).