Waitsburg-Prescott boys ride wins to state tourney

Waitsburg-Prescott's boys have won 21 straight game after a season-opening loss, and they face Bear Creek in the 2B state tournament Thursday.

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Waitsburg-Prescott coach T.J. Scott leads W-P against Bear Creek in the quarterfinals of the WIAA Class 2B state basketball tournament at the Spokane Arena Thursday.

WAITSBURG - Waitsburg-Prescott's boys suffered a 47-45 season-opening loss to Oregon Class 2A foe Weston-McEwen in December, as the TigerScots hit a buzzer-beater for the victory.

It was the only loss W-P has experienced this season as it's racked up 21 straight victories, right into Thursday's state Class 2B quarterfinals at the Spokane Arena against Bear Creek.

"It's amazing how far the kids have come during the season, it's been a heck of a ride," W-P coach T.J. Scott said.

The opening loss to W-M was good for his squad, Scott feels.

"That was a good opening test," he said. "We've gotten a lot better. That first game, we didn't make a shot outside the key. I didn't really know how things were going to shake out (during the season).

"The kids really stepped it up this year," the third-year W-P coach said. "It's the hardest working group I've had."

Last season, W-P advanced to the state tournament but lost two quick games and was done.

"We played decently, we just didn't finish games last year," Scott said. "We led into the fourth quarter of both games, but lost in the fourth.

"It's a whole different intensity at state," he said. "They (the referees) let you play. We weren't quite ready for it last year, it was a little overwhelming. We had a lot of our kids there (to get experience last year), and they've adjusted to that style of play."

W-P has eight seniors on its team that got that state experience last year.

In an example of that harder-hitting style of play in the state playoffs, Scott points to Friday's 63-50 regional victory over Brewster in which there were only 16 fouls called between the two teams.

Now, W-P looks ahead to Bear Creek, which lost to Adna, 35-33, on Friday before rebounding for a 73-45 victory over Northwest Christian of Lacey, Wash., on Saturday to advance to Thursday's game.

Scott said the Grizzlies hit 13-of-20 3-pointers in the win over Northwest Christian, and will rely on his defense to combat that threat.

"We're playing great defense," he said. "At the beginning of the season we had to (play great defense) because we weren't scoring. We were holding teams in the 30s and 40s, and scoring just enough to win.

"Then our offense picked up and our defense stayed excellent all year. We held teams to 44 points a game (over the season), which is pretty good."

Zach Bartlow has led W-P's offense this season, but isn't the only weapon.

"Offensively, we're very balanced," Scott said. "On any given night, any of seven or eight guys can lead us in scoring. It's a very nice thing to have. We play very good team basketball."

Bear Creek (21-4) was a favorite to win the state 2B title last season, before losing to eventual state-champion Pe Ell in the first round of the tournament. Bear Creek wound up with a fifth-place trophy.

"It's down to the final eight, everybody's good," Scott said of state. "They (the Grizzlies) have only lost four games this year, and only one inside our classification (the other three being to a 3A team and 1A teams).

"I watched them in the tournament last year, they had a very good team," he said. "They have most of that team back. They play a good, physical man-to-man defense.

"I know they're tall. They go 6-6, 6-5, 6-4, 6-3, on the down the line. They're a tall team," he said. "And obviously they have a bunch of shooters. We'll have to play very good defense to hold them down."

But W-P is ready, Scott said.

"The kids are looking forward to the challenge," he said. "This is the time of year you find out how good you really are."

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