PASCO - After 24 minutes here Friday in Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A District Tournament boys basketball playoff action, Chiawana and Wa-Hi battled to a standoff as the Riverhawks and Blue Devils entered the last period even at 42.
Eight minutes decided who continued its season and who went home.
The Blue Devils had opportunities, but failed to cash in as Chiawana held on for a 58-55 win.
Chiawana's Stephen Walter hit a putback with 2:06 left to put the Riverhawks ahead 53-51.
"Our kids played about as well as we can play," Blue Devil coach John Golden said. "We had a couple of chances at the end and they just didn't fall. Give these kids (Wa-Hi) a lot of credit. They battled as we had to go on the road to play the conference champion (a 51-35 loss at Davis) and then we had to come here and play the team that tied for the championship. I was real proud of their effort."
The Riverhawks went on a 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter. Following a Jordan Downing bucket with 6:36 left, the Riverhawks were up 47-42.
Wa-Hi answered with a 6-1 run, as an Alex Ceron steal and coast-to-coast drive got Wa-Hi even at 48-48, with Ceron at the foul line and 5:03 left. Ceron missed the free throw, but Matt Watson grabbed the rebound and put it back for a 50-48 Blue Devil lead with 4:58 left.
"Everytime they went on a run, we were able to answer it," Golden said. "We were able to come back and at least keep us within striking distance."
A Downing bucket got it even at 50-all with 4:06 left. Seth Alden converted 1-of-2 Wa-Hi free throws and Downing did the same for Chiawana to force the 12th and final tie of the night at 51-51 with 2:48 to play.
The Blue Devils missed a pair of free throws for the lead and Walter hit his go-ahead putback. Watson hit a free throw, but Miquiyah Zamora answered with a deuce and the Riverhawks led 55-52 with 1:39 left.
Alden scored to narrow the gap to 55-54 with 1:06 to go. Downing grabbed an offensive rebound - one of 17 offensive boards on the night for Chiawana - and drew a foul. Downing hit 1-of-2 for a 56-54 Riverhawk lead with 36 seconds left.
Alden, with a chance to tie with 16 seconds left, converted 1-of-2 to get Wa-Hi within 56-55, but Zamora hit both of his free throws with 14 seconds left to ice it.
Wa-Hi converted 3-of-8 free throws over the last three minutes and only 12-of-22 for the game.
"We missed too many free throws," Alden said. "I missed that last one and it was surprising as that was a real strength. It's a bummer every time you lose, but that was a heck of a game. Everybody played their best and that was probably the best game we played all year."
On the night, those 12 ties resulted in eight lead changes. Wa-Hi hit its first five shots of the game for a 10-3 lead, which proved to be the largest lead either team held. Alden's lean-in 3 at the second-quarter buzzer sent the Blue Devils to intermission up 29-26.
The Riverhawks won this one on the glass as their 17 offensive rebounds produced 19 second-chance points.
"We practice blocking out every day," Watson, who led Wa-Hi with 10 boards, said. "Outrebounding our opponents has been a real strength. Their players (tonight) got inside and got the rebounds."
"Offensive rebounding helped turn the tide," Golden said. "Physically, they are bigger, longer and stronger than we are."
Watson's double-double - 19 points and 10 boards - led Wa-Hi. Fellow senior Alden chipped in 16.
In addition to Watson and Alden, Ceron (five points), Marshall Dunovant (six points, seven rebounds), Kevin Toon (three points), Levi Swenson, and Jake Campeau all saw their senior season and Wa-Hi careers come to an end.
"They (the seniors) kind of came from out of nowhere, but we had great leadership out of the seven," Golden said. "I really appreciate how well they played together. They represented our community well."
For Watson and Alden, the final marked the end of a long basketball partnership.
"It was great to finish the season with Matt," Alden said. "We've been playing basketball since the first grade."
For the seniors, the end is always bittersweet.
"This team was fun to play with," Alden said. "Everybody played together. We came so far from losing our first game to Lewiston to coming up to here and losing to a great team."
"All of us went 100 percent in practice and worked on things we needed to do," Watson added. "This year's been fun."
Chiawana 58, Wa-Hi 55
WA-HI (55) - Toon 1-2 0-0 3, Ceron 2-5 1-4 5, Handcox 0-3 0-2 0, Torres 0-0 0-0 0, Eggers 0-2 0-0 0, Alden 6-9 2-4 16, Dunovant 2-4 2-2 6, Ferenz 3-5 0-0 6, Watson 6-13 7-10 19. Totals 20-43 12-22 55.
CHIAWANA (58) - Downing 4-13 5-8 13, Lopaya 0-0 0-0 0, Walter 4-5 3-4 13, Zamora 3-11 6-13 12, Graff 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 5-14 1-2 13, Knight 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 2-4 3-4 7. Totals 18-47 18-31 58.
Wa-Hi 13 16 13 13 - 55
Chiawana 17 9 16 16 - 58
3-point goals - Wa-Hi 3-9 (Toon 1-2, Handcox 0-1, Eggers 0-1, Alden 2-5), Chia 4-12 (Walter 2-2, Zamora 0-3, Smith 2-7). Total fouls - Wa-Hi 22, Chia 20. Fouled out - Wa-Hi (Ferenz). Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Wa-Hi 30 (Watson 10), Chia 41 (Anderson 10). Turnovers - Wa-Hi 11, Chia 10. Assists - Wa-Hi 10 (Handcox 5), Chia 5 (Walter 2, Smith 2).