Winston leads Wa-Hi into trophy round

Gary Winston scores 29 points as the Blue Devils manhandle Eastlake, 67-49, Friday to play for fourth place.

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Wa-Hi's Brandon Porter starts the celebration with a Blue Devils' yell and his team leading comfortably as the game wound down against Eastlake Friday.

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Wa-Hi coach John Golden calls a timeout as players fight for the ball on the court during the game. The Blue Devils earned possession on the play, as well as the 67-49 victory and a chance to play for fourth place in state on Saturday.

TACOMA - Seconds after the inbounds pass to start the third quarter, Wa-Hi's Gary Winston drilled his second 3-pointer of the game.

The shot extended the Blue Devils' lead to 31-25 over Eastlake at the boys Class 4A state basketball tournament here Friday.

When the buzzer ended that eight-minute span, Winston had poured 16 points through the hoop. Wa-Hi had outscored the Rams 27-10 and expanded its lead to 55-35.

When the final buzzer sounded eight minutes later, Wa-Hi, 24-6, owned a 67-49 victory and a berth in Saturday's battle for the fourth- and seventh-place trophies against the Gators of Decatur (18-10).

Winston finished with a game-high 29 points, including 4-of-6 3-pointers, and he tied for game-high rebounding honors with eight. Winston hit a pair of free throws in the final period before leaving the game for good with 5:10 on the clock.

Winston said his and the team's goal was to take a trophy home to Walla Walla.

"That was one of my goals before the season started. That was one of my goals before I came into high school," he said. "I wanted a state title, (he shrugged) but not everybody gets that. At least I had a chance to get it.

"It just didn't happen," Winston continued. "But we get a trophy no matter what. Although I want the fourth-place trophy, if it fails and we play the worst we've ever played, we get to go home with the seventh-place trophy.

"If we play as well as we played (Friday), we may go home with the fourth-place trophy," Winston said. "It will be a good game. Decatur is pretty good, and we feel we're pretty good, so it should be a good game."

Winston said he "just stayed aggressive," on Friday with his AAU coach (Wa-Hi principal Darcy Weisner) in the stands "barking" at him.

"He's just helping me out," Winston said. "He's like my second father and my AAU coach. He bought me these shoes (he raised a foot with a shiny white shoe). The other shoes didn't work, so he helped me out. And I owed him, and I had to get a game for him."

Winston didn't say the shoes made a difference but he said the support did.

"I just tried to keep aggressive, and it turned out to work. Everybody played well, and that's contagious," he said

Michael Weisner scored 18 points, including 4-of-5 3-pointers, and ripped off six rebounds.

"I can shoot the 3s," Weisner said. "I think my role on the team is to score points. If I'm open for a 3, I'll take it."

In the third quarter, Winston popped the 3, then missed a shot, but Colton Arias muscled down a rebound and put it back.

Weisner and Winston then hit back-to-back 3s.

Winston hit a pull-up jumper, hit layup off the glass with a base-line drive, scored off of a Rams' turnover and, finally, popped another 3-pointer from 24-feet out and Wa-Hi led 50-32.

Wa-Hi went 8-for-10 from the floor in the quarter, and also hit 7-of-11 free throws to lead 55-35 at the end of the period.

Winston had one trip to the line after pulling off a rebound and racing coast-to-coast for a twisting, crowded layin attempt that missed when he was fouled. He sank one of the two shots.

"I was definitely impressed when we came out with that many points in the third quarter," Weisner said. "It was big for us. The game was really tight in the first half, but we busted it open in the third quarter.

"At halftime we knew that we had our backs against the wall," he said. "We knew we had to get this win, or we were done. I think everyone was just on the same page, and everything was working out. Gary stepped up big in this game."

Wa-Hi's largest lead (23 points, 61-38) came when Arias scored off of an assist from Winston with 6:10 left in the game.

"We were more aggressive today, especially in the second half," Arias said. "We knew we had to come out fast in the second half and take the lead, and that's what we did. Winston was on fire. I'm not sure if he missed one."

Winston scored 18 and 16 points, respectively, in the first two games at state.

Michael Russo and Kyle Hansen led the Rams with 13 points each, and Russo tied for game-high rebounding honors with eight .

Eastlake ended its season at 19-9.

"We've run that play before this year where we get the shot for Gary, and he hits the 3 to get us going in the third quarter," Golden said. "And it worked.

"Gary has struggled some," Golden said. "He went through a little stretch at the end of the year where he struggled a bit. It was probably from fatigue because he's played a lot of minutes, and we've ridden him pretty well the whole season. Then, last weekend, he was finding (his game) and getting back. We had two loser-out games, and he showed that he wasn't going to be denied.

"And in this game we saw the Gary that we've seen all season. At halftime we talked about coming out and extending the lead. We wanted to get a couple of good looks," Golden continued.

"Our defense was pretty good tonight," Golden added. "Russo is a heck of a player, and Mike did a great job on him. We limited them to tough looks, and also to one look. We rebounded real well. I was happy with our offensive rebounds. It wasn't a lot compared to what we've normally given up all season."

Wa-Hi gave up no offensive boards during its third-quarter run, and the Blue Devils finished the game with 23-of-44 shooting from the floor (52.3 percent).

"So, I'm just real happy for our seniors," Golden said. "They get to bring something home after a great effort (Friday)."

EASTLAKE (49) - Iraola 1-5 1-2 4, Pericin 1-6 4-4 7, An. Elkugia 1-5 0-0 2, Lester 1-5 2-2 4, Ab. Elkugia 0-0 0-0 0, Sikma 0-2 3-4 3, Marxen 0-2 0-0 0, Russo 6-17 0-1 13, Nelson 0-1 3-4 3, Clift 0-0 0-0 0, Hansen 6-10 1-1 13. Totals 16-53 14-18 49.

WA-HI (67) - Winston 10-19 5-7 29, Aguiar 0-1 2-2 2, Crawford 1-2 0-0 2, Porter 0-2 0-0 0, Arias 2-3 0-1 4, Weisner 6-9 2-2 18, Maddess 0-0 0-0 0, James 2-5 1-2 5, Alden 1-1 2-2 4, Watson 1-1 1-2 3, Sumerlin 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-24 13-18 49.

Eastlake 17 8 10 14 - 49

Wa-Hi 14 14 27 12 - 67

3-point goals - Eastlake 3-17 (Iraola 1-2, Pericin 1-5, Lester 0-1, Sikma 0-1, Marxen 0-2, Russo 1-5, Nelson 0-1), Wa-Hi 8-13 (Winston 4-6, Aguiar 0-1, Crawford 0-1, Weisner 4-5). Total fouls - Eastlake 16, Wa-Hi 16. Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Rebounds - Eastlake 32 (Russo 8), Wa-Hi 30 (Winston 8). Turnovers - Eastlake 11 , Wa-Hi 12. Assists - Eastlake 5 (Russo 2), Wa-Hi 12 (Winston 6). Steals - Eastlake 5 (Russo 3), Wa-Hi 4 (four with 1).

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